New opportunities for citizen scientists

Mating goannas, koalas snoozing in backyard mulberry trees and sightings of elusive short-beaked echidnas are just some of more than 13,000 Eyre Peninsula citizen science observations being celebrated on April 13 as part of Citizen Science Day.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Officer Ben Smith said he’s amazed by the record number of everyday people now contributing to Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula citizen science program.

“Volunteers have been delivering outstanding work for the environment on Eyre Peninsula such as tree planting, picking up rubbish and revegetating whole parks. Now citizen science adds a new deeper dimension to volunteering,” Mr Smith said.

“The key difference is you are working towards answering a scientific question. For example; where are malleefowl surviving in drying climatic conditions, or how widespread are koalas on Eyre Peninsula?”

To celebrate Citizen Science Day, Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula have launched a series of new online portals for reporting iconic Eyre Peninsula species, including malleefowl, goannas, koalas and echidnas.

“The new web portals at www.epcitizenscience.com.au are much more user-friendly, which makes them easy to use on mobile devices such as phones and tablets,” Mr Smith said.

“They also provide more real-time information back to the person making the report so they can see how their observation is contributing to our regional data set, which then ends up stored within the Biological Databases of South Australia.

“Malleefowl sightings have provided exciting fresh insights into how the highly camouflaged birds are popping up in long unseen places, such as Venus Bay and Lincoln National Park, in recent months on Eyre Peninsula.

“This is something the Friends of Southern Eyre Peninsula Parks have acted on quickly and are now working with the National Malleefowl Recovery Team to establish monitoring sites and keep closer records on predators and threats.

“Our Eyre Peninsula, koalas project is another great example where a citizen science project enabled us to identify the current distribution of koalas across our region. We now know they can be found from Memory Cove to as far north as Coulta, and has played an important role in the development of a management plan for this species. This would not have been possible without the help of our citizen scientists.”

Citizen science is identified as a priority action in the Natural Resources Management Board’s Regional Plan, with community participation in a range of citizen science initiatives helping to further understand the trend and condition of Eyre Peninsula’s natural resources.

Other external citizen science projects relevant to Eyre Peninsula include FrogWatch SA and Whale Spotter through the SA Whale Centre. For more information please visit www.epcitizenscience.com.au


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