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‘Citizen Scientist’ exalts ordinary heroes in conservation science

Journalist embarks on journey through crowdsourced research

By
11:00am, October 16, 2016
Cascades Butterfly Project

CROWDSOURCING  The subject of a new book, citizen science projects that get ordinary people involved in tracking, counting and monitoring species (like this butterfly monitoring project in the Cascades) can help scientists gather far more data than they could alone.

Citizen Scientist
Mary Ellen Hannibal
The Experiment, $25.95

You don’t need a degree in science to monitor backyard owls or measure trees. And anyone with a computer can help scientists track seal populations in Antarctica. Citizen science projects like these — which depend on crowdsourced data — are booming. And when faced with a planet scarred by industrialization and climate change, these efforts might be exactly what we need, environmental journalist Mary Ellen Hannibal argues in Citizen Scientist.

What we call “citizen science” was once just “science.” After all, many early conservationists and natural historians — people like John Muir — weren’t academics. As species disappear faster and faster, scientists

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