WHAT IS COMMUNITY SCIENCE?

Community science is a collaborative effort between scientists and those of us who are curious, concerned, and motivated to make a difference in the natural world. The scientific work undertaken by these members of the general public is invaluable as these large, volunteer-based networks make it possible for scientists to accomplish projects that would otherwise be too expensive or time-consuming through traditional means. 

Importantly, community science encourages public participation. By making science more accessible to everyone, community science can help to dispel stereotypes and biases towards science. Community science brings science within reach for those who are not (or not-yet) scientists, and builds connections between people with shared interests of advancing knowledge, understanding, stewardship, and engagement with the natural world.

 

HOW DOES GTRLC USE COMMUNITY SCIENCE?

The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s connection to community science is highlighted by our commitment to connecting people to the land, inspiring conservation action, and advancing stewardship. By working with community partners and training our volunteer base in community science activities, we collect data applicable for management plans, habitat restoration projects, and greatly increase our chances of early detection of invasive species. Data sourced from community science projects are also important in grant reporting and fundraising. Community science is deeply intertwined with the values of the Conservancy – we understand that by building engagement for environmental stewardship, we benefit our region as a whole.

 

ACTIVE COMMUNITY SCIENCE PROJECTS


BEACH CLEANUPS

Trash in the water and on shorelines endangers wildlife through entanglement, ingestion, and as a contamination risk. To gain an accurate and meaningful assessment of plastics and their influence, large-scale and long-term monitoring is needed, which is why the Conservancy community scientists will be collecting critical data on the type of debris found littering shorelines. Help us collect the information needed by scientists to come up with collaborative solutions for the reduction of pollutants at the source.

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STREAM WATER QUALITY MONITORING

There is no doubt that our region is home to many beautiful streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Partnering with local waterkeepers, we invite our volunteers to join the Adopt-A-Stream program to help protect our sensitive watersheds. 

The Adopt-A-Stream program is an exciting, community-led effort to track water quality by sampling for benthic macroinvertebrates, a fancy word for aquatic insects, crustaceans, and other small creatures. It’s a perfect volunteer opportunity for groups composed of children and adults alike – anyone who cares about the health of our watersheds. 

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iNaturalist

GTRLC is excited to introduce iNaturalist as a way to increase visibility of the species (plants, animals, and fungi) present on our nature preserves. We also encourage anyone – visitors and our staff – to collect and report their observations when traversing our properties, so we have the best, most up-to-date picture of what’s present on our preserves. Data that are collected are applicable for management plans, habitat restoration projects, and landscape-scale research projects, as well as grant reporting and fundraising. As iNaturalist is a public tool, data collected may also be used in research projects beyond the scope of the Conservancy. 

You can view our iNaturalist project homepage here.

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eBird

GTRLC uses eBird, not only as a way to share which species are present in our nature preserves, but also to connect people with the natural world and foster greater stewardship of our natural resources. We hope that bird-enthused visitors, community scientists, and GTRLC staff will collect and report their observations when traversing our properties, so we can have a complete and up-to-date picture of which species are present on our preserves. Data that are collected are applicable for a variety of Conservancy activities and because eBird is a public tool, data collected may also be used in research projects beyond the scope of the Conservancy. Get outside and explore a preserve near you! 

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