Helping our Urban Insects
» Join the Somerville Pollinator Project!
Insects are in trouble, but we can do something about it right where we live! Join us and help our community pollinators, the scientists who study them and all of us who depend upon them. We need you to help them!
Read how you can help by joining EwA’s study group at The Somerville Community Growing Center for observing, recording, and counting arthropod species. Really there’s something for everyone! ツ
Check the project’s highlights, and you can directly fill out our Volunteer Interest Form 📝 to let us know how you might be interested in participating. No prior knowledge is necessary: we’ll share knowledge and expertise – all that you need to know and more!
If you want to help EwA’s other projects at any of our study locations, you can apply here ↓
For Those Interested in Surveying with EwA at the Growing Center
⇩ In Brief… ⇩ Survey Activities ⇩ Next Steps ⇩ Who Can Help?
How EwA Citizen Science is helping our insects ▶️
You have an interest in surveying the pollinators (& insects) at the Growing Center with us.
For a start, here’s a little about us. Earthwise Aware focuses on protecting biodiversity, bringing communities together through ecological ethics and citizen science. As for our citizen science program, we have several projects in the region that fill knowledge gaps and help biodiversity science locally and globally.
About insects specifically: this year, we’ve started surveying at Fresh Pond (Cambridge), Horn Pond (Woburn), and at the Middlesex Fells Reservation (Medford, Winchester, etc.). It is great to also a very urban area such as Somerville, and the Growing Center specifically.
Part of our goals besides helping scientists is also to promote science methodology, insects and native plants & insects knowledge in our communities including helping our representatives to understand biodiversity science. We also want to provide a means for people to learn about protocols & data, and develop tools for evidence-based advocacy.
One more thing: No prior knowledge is necessary to help us: we’ll share knowledge and expertise – all that you need to know and more!
We conduct biodiversity and phenology surveys weekly, 3 seasons of the year. These include:
□ Plant Community Assessment. We survey regularly the plants of the center (plant baseline and changes).
□ Arthropod Occurrence Survey. Photo document the insect population regularly. At first, it’ll be to establish a baseline and understand which order/family/genus and species visit the Growing center.
□ Arthropod Abundance Survey. We’ll also survey at regular intervals specific trees (and inspect tagged branches in those trees) and count and record any insects that land or feed on it.
□ Plant and Arthropod Phenology. We document the seasonal cycles of plants and their regular arthropod visitors (event synchronicity analysis).
□ During the winter, we refine records together (e.g., species identification, and data inspection). For those interested to participate, we also develop reports exhibiting and comparing data from all our sites. These aggregate results for ourselves, our communities, our partner organizations, and governmental institutions.
▹ A quick note about protocol: We have data protocols in place to record our observations. We train our volunteers on how to upload reliable records and have fun while doing it! The data is recorded in engaging open science platforms.
The general biodiversity of the center is maintained in an iNaturalist project (EwA at the Growing Center).
The EwA team leads regular surveys at the center, and if you’re new to it, you’ll have a great opportunity to learn and practice until you want to do it on your own – unsupervised – or not: it’s fine to keep wanting to do it in a group setting ツ The goal, besides community and science building, is also to have you monitoring when we can’t, and supply additional data. The more regular and continuous our surveys are, the better it is for our pollinators, our scientists, and ourselves as human Earth-citizen!
Each visit starts with the field task du jour, and with a short intro with important info for newcomers to give a chance to anybody to start at any point during the year. If you’re new and you missed the project intro part, and day field duty explanations, then no worry, there’s always the next event!
Our question to you: When is your general day/time availability? (Give us options if possible). And if you are interested to join or dab to see if it’s for you we invite you to subscribe to our forum, so that you get updated about results, coming short-notice visits, etc.
Who Can Help/Attend?
Anybody really. We train our citizen scientists anyway!
📅 Check our EwA Calendar [ view calendar | subscribe to calendar ] to see when we plan our visits. As our weekly surveys depend on the weather (temperature and wind speed), our visit is usually announced a few days before a survey.
💬 Join our EwA forum to get notified about our field findings, as well as to learn about cool science and important news. This is also a good way to ask questions and share what is important to you.
Some of you have asked how many kids we accommodate. We’ve never run a survey with many children, so we don’t have the answer to that question.
We usually have young adults, adults, and seniors. We have had a few young stellar citizen scientists attending on a few occasions. Those were certainly more mature than many adults we know ツ So, children are welcome. Just note that we ask anyone to follow the same rules as any of our citizen scientists: be quiet (wildlife ethics), spot without disturbing (field ethics), communicate quietly, and participate as much as possible.
There’s a lot of observing, moving slowly, flipping leaves cautiously, recording on camera, and using data recording apps. Note that we don’t “capture” unless strictly necessary, yet we move out of harm’s way when needed. So, besides learning about biodiversity science, data, and protocol, our surveys are the perfect activity to learn about ethics and self-control 🙂
We hope you have all your questions answered. If not, please do not hesitate to ask. We look forward to hearing from you.
ⓘ We also run insect surveys at Fresh Pond (Cambridge), Horn Pond (Woburn), and the Middlesex Fells Reservation as part of our Biodiversity programs. Check our EwA Citizen Science Program »
🔎 Example of Species Observed at the Growing Center
Sharing is Caring Spread the word!
✒️ What you think is important to us. Feel free to engage us and leave a courteous message below. Thanks!
More about the Surveys. There are 2 surveys that we do regularly at the Growing Center (and at 3 other sites):
* A photo-documentation (for occurrence data),
* A count (for abundance data).
* 2 phenology surveys (for behavior data)
The easiest is to sign up (create an account) for each of these tools, and then record directly your observations when surveying in the field. Signing up is free and easy, and then once you have those profiles up and ready, we’ll explain in the field how to record your observations. Very quickly you’ll be able to spot and identify with high accuracy. It’s true! (and it’s fun).
Arthropod Occurrence (Survey #1)
We upload our photo-documentation on iNaturalist. It is a great global and open biodiversity data platform that is also a social network for naturalists to share their sightings. If you don’t have an iNaturalist account, it’s easy to set up. Then, if you give me your iNaturalist profile name I’ll be able to pull your observations of the Growing Center Pond in our project.
Counting Arthropod (Survey #2)
For those who want to also do the count (the second kind of survey), you’ll want to install the “caterpillars count” app. It’s very easy to understand how it works and you’re up to speed in no time!
Phenology Surveys (#3) and (#4)
Resources & Game
Some of you asked for our survey documentation, as well as wanted to know about the details of our protocol.
All our documentation is publicly accessible and listed in the EwA Plant Survey Protocol > here.
And specifically here are the info sheets that we used in the field with you:
* EwA Common Species Groups Info Sheet
* Teá’s Butterfly Info Sheet
Finally, a very cool virtual game (from the Caterpillars Count team) > Test your ability to find, identify and measure arthropods on virtual test branches. Race the clock as you play three increasingly difficult rounds, trying to locate and identify every arthropod on the page, and measure it correctly. Points are awarded for accuracy – try to get as many points as you can! Game > https://caterpillarscount.unc.edu/virtualSurvey/
ⓘ More About EwA Citizen Science Program » https://www.earthwiseaware.org/citizen-science/