📝 EwA Ecological Studies

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Plants, wildlife, habitats – There’s something for everyone

ⓘ EwA Projects Skills & Time Requirements Details

🦋 Insect & Pollinator Survey

Observing insect populations & life cycle

Surveying pollinators and other plant visitors is intended to help local entomologists and global conservation scientists. Continuous phenology and population data are lacking. The information that we record helps fill the gap.

We feed the info to different global databases that are tracking species occurrences (iNaturalist), species composition and abundance (Caterpillar Counts), and insect phenophases (Nature’s Notebook).

Collecting such data is an important scientific effort that helps us better understand the collapse of insect populations, which is being observed throughout the world. This kind of data is critical to understand the implications on avian populations, other fauna at large, and on our own species (e.g., food security). A better understanding will lead to better societal actions and policies.


▶️ How EwA Helps Arthropods | 📊 » EwA Plant Visitor Survey Protocol | 📆 » EwA Events Calendar


🌱 Phenology

Recording nature’s seasonal events

Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate, as well as habitat factors (such as elevation). 

Phenology monitoring is part of our effort to collect information about the impact of climate change on the synchronicity of fauna and flora phenophases (i.e., observable stages or phases in the annual life cycle of a plant or animal that can be defined by a start and endpoint). 

EwA is a USA National Phenology Network (NPN) partner. EwA uses its national standardized protocol to record phenophases. The collected data is stored and aggregated via the NPN’s Nature’s Notebook program/platform (Search for the ‘Earthwise Aware’ project and partner group).

The EwA phenology program leader is an NPN certified local phenology leader. Last but not least, EwA is the proud winner 🥇 of the NPN 2019 Pheno Champion Award!


We run studies in local parks, reservations, and urban open spaces. One of our study locations is at the Middlesex Fells Reservation, a 2800-acres urban woodland managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. There, we record seasonal fauna & flora cycles at 7 different sites.

Check EwA’s interactive pheno-site map – Join our effort!


▶️ Revealing Urban Wildlife’s Natural History | 📊 » EwA Phenology Quick Start Guide | 📆 » EwA Events Calendar


🦌 Biodiversity Mapping

The iNat EwA Biodiversity Projects » Explore & participate!

EwA actively records the biodiversity occurrence of 10 sites in 4 parks and reservations (Massachusetts, US). We also record biodiversity where ever we happen to be in the US and in the World

EwA Massachusetts Biodiversity Projects (Urban Wildlife, Woodland and Wetland Citizen Science)

Our mission is simple: Give power to the people to understand the ecology of the habitats we survey in the region and participate in the active protection of these unique landscapes. The program gets nature enthusiasts and volunteers to data-collect relevant species and habitat biodiversity observations over time. It fosters a fundamental understanding of ecology, phenology, and ethics. It helps science and wildlife conservation advocacy. Our main study sites are the Middlesex Fells Reservation, the Fresh Pond Reservation (Cambridge), the Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary (Belmont), and the Community Growing Center (Somerville).

EwA Nature Circles (World Biodiversity)

We encourage our circles’ community to join the EwA Nature Circles citizen science project on iNaturalist and record/post the pictures of the species they encounter during a circle, or when hiking or traveling. This is open to all our followers wherever they may be in the World. Join us, and share your sightings. Let’s learn from each other while helping science.

We also record biodiversity wherever in the world we happen to be in our iNat country-specific projects (e.g., EwA in Romania, EwA in Mongolia, EwA in the UK).

EwA observations on iNaturalist.org


Example of Biodiversity Occurences in the Greater Boston Area


» Join EwA’s iNat Biodiversity Projects | » iNat Essentials | 📆 » EwA Events Calendar


🦉 Bird Monitoring

Observing bird populations, migration & seasonal activities

Together with the EwA Pollinator Surveys, monitoring birds at all our sites is intended to help local entomologists and global conservation scientists. Continuous phenology and population data are lacking, and the information that we record helps fill the gap.

We feed the info to different global databases that are tracking species richness (iNaturalist), population abundance (eBird), and bird phenophases (Nature’s Notebook).

Collecting such data is an important scientific effort that helps us better understand the collapse of insect populations, which is being observed throughout the world. This kind of data is critical to understand the implications on avian populations, other fauna at large, and on our own species (e.g., food security). A better understanding will lead to better societal actions and policies.


📆 » EwA Events Calendar


🌿 Ecological Community Assessment

Tracking changes in ecological communities

Several times a year, we add to our phenology and biodiversity occurrence and abundance records and do ecological community assessments for some of our study sites, at the Middlesex Fells Reservation. This allows us to see how fauna and flora composition change over time in a rapidly changing world in critical at-risk habitats. These are necessary assessments measuring the health of our forests and geared to empower communities to inform environmental decision-makers.

Field protocols that we use include point count methods, habitat characterization methods, area searches, and species dominance assessment.

After gathering enough data, we report on the composition and changes and submit the information to the State’s institutions vested in the protection of the Fells.


📆 » EwA Events Calendar


🥾 Habitat Fragmentation Mapping

Study the impact of the user-created trails (a.k.a. rogue trails) in the Middlesex Fells Reservation

This is a mapping project to identify and study the impact of habitat fragmentation due to user-created trails–hiking and biking trails a.k.a. rogue trails–in the Middlesex Fells Reservation. The effort is also encouraged by the Friends of the Middlesex Fells.

As urban ecologists, we encounter specific urban situations. One is the abundance of fragmented habitats, which alter the functional diversity of the different habitats of the Fells, degrades its flora, and harms its wildlife. Further down the line, it hurts us too.

🏵️ The Fells fauna and flora depend on stellar trail ethics. 🗺️ Be a Fells wildlife defender: upload the DCR routes of the Fells on your Google Map and make sure that you remain on-trail when hiking, biking, or simply enjoying the Fells.


📊 » EwA Rogue Trail Mapping Field Protocol | 📆 » EwA Events Calendar


💩 Bio-pollution Mapping

Study the impact of the dog poop littering in the Middlesex Fells Reservation

This is a project to study the impact and raise awareness about the littering of the Middlesex Fells Reservation with Dog Poop (bagged and not).

As urban ecologists, we encounter specific urban situations. One is the abundance of dog poop in fragile habitats. We love our dogs, yet their parasites (harmless to them), and the chemicals in their processed diet food passing in their excrements (even when bagged) leach into the Fells wetlands when not disposed of properly. This in return harms a plethora of wildlife and their habitats. Further down the line, it hurts us too. We seem to forget that our parks are critical ecological reservoirs for us humans and our pets.

🗺️ Explore & Share the map – Share your sightings with us! ⚠️ We need pics with exact timestamps and location/GPS metadata. The best way for us to collect your data (and guarantee data quality) is that you upload your pics to a shared google album that we’ll communicate upon request. Contact us at FellsDPMapping@earthwiseaware.org and ask us to join that album.


📊 » EwA Dog Poop Mapping Field Protocol | 📆 » EwA Events Calendar


⚠️ Invasive Species Patrol

Documenting & reporting invasive species pollution

🚧 We are currently piloting a national recording protocol that combines data from other databases and organizations as well as volunteer observations. The effort is to participate in the development of a national network of invasive species distribution data that is shared with educators, land managers, conservation biologists, and beyond. This data is to become the foundation for a better understanding of invasive species distribution around the world.

Biological pollution caused by invasive species is extremely challenging to deal with. We must actively seek solutions to control or eradicate the species which are problems already or have the potential to become problems. So we’re coming to the rescue, and help to grow the public support in the State to document rigorously and report invasives. This will help scientists to understand invasive species distribution and enable treatment interventions.

We’ll be back soon with a protocol, and campaigns that you can join to help the effort. Stay tuned!


📆 » EwA Events Calendar


🐸 Vernal Pool Awareness & Protection

Identifying & protecting the vernal pools of the Middlesex Fells Reservation

The Vernal Pool Awareness & Protection Project is a cool community-based conservation initiative for protecting the vernal pools and wetland habitats of the Middlesex Fells Reservation through education, partnerships, and science.

⚠️ No (permanent or temporary) body of water in the Fells can be explored without a permit from the DCR.

The program focuses on the vernal pools of the Middlesex Fells Reservation that are not yet ‘certified’ (following the definition of Vernal Pools as defined by the State of Massachusetts). Working with local herpetologists, our goal is to document and certify those potential pools so that they get protected under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act regulations. Doing so, we close species migration gaps between the non-certified and certified pools, therefore directly improving the conservation of wetland species, and specifically of the species of the Fells.


📊 » EwA Vernal Pool Awareness & Protection Protocol (& 📋 Field Form) | 📆 » EwA Events Calendar


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