Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Butterflies get a hand from citizen scientists

Satterfield is recruiting “citizen scientists” — ordinary people with an interest in collecting scientific information — for her study monitoring monarch butterflies. In particular she’s looking at a monarch parasite called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha or Oe for short.

It’s a microscopic, single-celled organism first discovered in monarchs and queen butterflies in the 1960s. It’s harmless to humans and other animals, but it’s tough on these orange and black beauties.

Infected females transmit the parasite to the milkweed plants where they lay their eggs. When caterpillars emerge, they unwittingly eat the spores. Sometimes they have trouble developing properly. Sometimes they survive to adulthood with the infection, but are still weakened.

“We know they can’t fly as well, as fast or as far as healthy monarchs,” Satterfield said.

Savannah Morning News
21 Apr 2013
M Landers

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Citizen scientists stretch their wings and research dollars

Seneca Kristjonsdottir, left, who studies bees, and Colorado master
gardener Tina Ligon look at different species of Colorado bees with
magnifying glasses before a "Bees' Needs" meeting last month
at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.
(Jamie Cotten, Special to The Denver Post)

The birds and the bees naturally excite interest. But people were jam-packed into the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History one night in late March — extra seats crammed at the last minute behind fossil-display cases — as two scientists recruited them for a research project on native bee species.

CU is asking citizen scientists to help gather data about the roughly 150 species of bees that nest locally in any little cavity or tunnel in woody material — dead trees, fallen logs, hollowed-out twigs.

The crowded hall was, forgive the expression, buzzing with anticipation, as Dr. Alexandra Rose, the university's citizen-scientist coordinator, said CU was "conning the public into doing our work for us."

The public didn't mind.

Denver Post
07 Apr 2013
E Draper