Call for Citizen Scientists!
- Category: News
Audubon Washington's new citizen-science project is looking for volunteers! Participate in a regional volunteer monitoring effort, learn about coastal ecology, meet like-minded community members, and spend time near the water!
WHAT: Observe intertidal habitat use of waterbirds
WHO: Be part of a team of scientists including the University of Washington (UW), NOAA Fisheries (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WA DNR)
WHEN: Waterbird surveys will be conducted monthly during low tides, recording the abundance and behavior of birds in vegetated and unvegetated patches. Surveys will occur from mid-March through September 2016.
WHERE: Shore-based surveys of intertidal habitats will occur at fixed sites around Puget Sound and in Willapa Bay.
Sites have been selected to occur where easy shore access is within 300 m of low intertidal habitats including seagrass patches. Currently, these include: north end of Case Inlet, Nisqually delta, Birch Bay, Skokomish River, and Port Gamble Bay.
WHY: The study focuses on connections between a variety of waterbirds and intertidal habitats. Although diet and large-scale distribution are known for many bird species, the consequences of local habitat modifications on tideflats are essentially unknown. Many habitat types exist in intertidal zones, but here the focus is on native seagrass and bare mudflat near the lowest low tides. This new project is jointly funded by Washington Sea Grant and Washington Department of Natural Resources. Observers will collect a range of response variables (density, foraging) across multiple waterbird functional groups (shorebirds, gulls, waterfowl, wading birds, etc.) in structured (seagrass) and unstructured (unvegetated) habitat. This citizen science project builds on others in which birds are recorded at specific times and places, and adds an unusual component of comparison between two habitat types.
TRAINING: Participants would preferably have their own binoculars or spotting scope as well as some experience identifying waterbirds. Two-hour training sessions will emphasize demarcation of habitat boundaries and consistency in data collection. Training sessions are planned to coincide with mid-day low tides on February 27, 28 or March 12, 13.