Participatory Science: 5 Programs to Contribute to the Study and Conservation of Nature

Take a walk down the street, in the shade of a park or simply in your garden – while you contribute to science? This is possible, thanks to the “Vigie Nature” programs of the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN). While some biodiversity monitoring programs target specific audiences (experienced natural scientists, students and teachers, farmers or landscape managers), other initiatives, on the other hand, are open to all. Overview !

Savages de ma Street: 10 years already

Among the participatory science programs open to all, there is one dedicated to plants: “Sauvages de ma rue”, with the support of the Museum and the Tela Botanica Association. His goal is to point out the wild plants on the streets of France: dandelions, market garden, garden plants, annual bluegrass, white moss …

protocol. You don’t need to be a botanist to participate! You choose a street, whether near your home or on vacation, for example, and write down in a “field paper” the date, address, and all kinds of plants you encounter on the sidewalk. To help you out, you have identification cards showing the 240 species of plants most common in our latitudes. Finally, once you have completed your career, our online data entry tool allows you to send data directly to researchers.

Since its launch in 2012, “Sauvages de ma rue” has gathered more and more participants. Unfortunately, the successive lock-ups brought the follow-ups to a standstill“, admits Natalie Machaon, professor of environment at MNHN and scientific director of the programme, who is joined by GEO.fr.”At the time, we were studying the effects of the ban on Insecticides In the urban space since 2017, but also the impact climate change (…) The link between biodiversity and the quality of life of city dwellers. “

Lots of crucial questions that researchers can focus on again thanks to citizen engagement. “For us, this data is very important, and for the people involved, it is an opportunity to get to know the nature around them better.”, confirms Natalie Machon. The Tela Botanica Association regularly organizes surveys to find out how participants feel about the project.

Note that to celebrate the program’s 10th anniversary, several events are being organized during the Fête de la Nature, from May 18 to 22, 2022. So, a Parisian or a visitor passing through the capital, go for the “Documentation of Urban Biodiversity” meeting on Saturday 21 May at 4 pm in the auditorium of the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, before a workshop entitled “Wild Plants: Recommended Guests!” It takes place at the Jardin des Plantes at 5pm on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd May.

Garden birds: anywhere, anytime

Do you regularly watch birds on your balcony, in your garden, or in a garden near your home? So scientists helped study the effects of climate, urbanization and agriculture on these animals by participating in the “Garden Birds” programme, in partnership with the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO). A perfect opportunity to learn to identify species according to their appearance and song!

protocol. It can be achieved at any time of the year, on a regular or occasional basis, and the protocol consists of 4 steps. First, choose your viewing location. Then count the maximum number of birds of each species you see landing – be careful not to count the same individual multiple times. Finally, write the date, start time, and end time for your note, and fill in your details on the program’s website.

If all seasons are favorable, the last weekend of May is one of the two “highlights” of the Garden Birds of the year. In the winter, another citizen science program, BirdLab, allows you to monitor bird behavior near feeders and report your observations directly with an app.

Bee Watch: Zoom in on an unknown insect

Less well known than honeybees or wild bees, bumblebees are also part of “pollinators”, which ensure the sexual reproduction of plants by transferring pollen to the female part of the flowers (called the “stigma”). Despite their primary ecological role, these insects are declining, particularly due to pesticides, climate change and urbanization. To help scientists study it, you can participate in the “Bumblebee Observatory” program launched by the museum and the Estuaire Society.

protocol. In your garden or balcony, from March to October, count the number of bees visible for each species for 5 minutes: bumblebees are distinguished from each other by the width, arrangement and color of the stripes on their bodies. A profile sheet is there to help you. Finally, enter the maximum number of bees you saw per week (without adding your notes on different days) on the program website.

Operation Butterflies: From the Pioneers

Pollinators Like bees and bees, butterflies are a fragile species and susceptible to the effects of human activity, particularly agriculture, urbanization, or even global warming. Launched in 2006 by the Society of Neuilty and the National Museum of Natural History, Operation Butterflies was one of the first participatory science projects on the topic of biodiversity to see the light of day in France.

protocol. From March to October, in a private or public garden or on your balcony, count the number of butterflies of each species you observe, using your identification sheet. Write down the number of days you calculated in the week. Finally, report on the program’s website the maximum number of butterflies for each species you have seen.

Noah It allows everyone to learn to recognize the common butterflies in our gardens and to learn about the favorable practices of these species in order to initiate behavioral changes in favor of biodiversity‘, identifies the link on their website.In addition, the massing of a large number of observers throughout the metropolitan territory and over a long period of time makes it possible to gain scientific knowledge about butterflies, their habitats, the evolution of their populations and the effects of human activities on them.

Spipoll: Photographers of Small Animals

You’ve been dreaming of becoming a paparazzi, but your favorite stars are nothing but little monsters circling your plants? Then Spipoll is designed for you. This programme, coordinated by the Museum with the Office of Insects and Their Environment (Opie), aims to study the interactions between plants and pollinating insects – and the formation of “pollinating networks”, as well as those of insects among themselves.

protocol. No telephoto needed: a simple digital camera – or a smartphone – is enough. First choose a flowering plant. Then photograph any insects that land on the flowers. Once back, sort and crop your photos according to the instructions. Finally, select the bugs you have immortalized (using a card), and publish your photos on the program’s website.

Once you become an expert, you can even help other participants decide which genres were depicted. You may be one of the most noticed profiles in the community!

Open: More than 160 participatory science programs identified

You live abroad, or want to contribute to the study of other types of animals (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks …) or other ecosystems (sea, coast, forest …)? The OPEN portal of the Participatory Observatory of Species and Nature lists more than 160 participatory science programmes. The search engine allows filtering by region, topic and type of interest, but also by level of experience.

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