Volunteers are invited to participate in citizen science projects focused on environmental research and restoration at MDI Biological Laboratory’s Community Environmental Health Laboratory (CEHL).
There are many entry points into a “citizen science project cycle.” Collection of observations for contribution to a common data pool that might be later utilized by scientists is currently the most frequent entry point. In citizen-assisted restoration ecology, this is more rarely the case. We have been restoring eelgrass in the waters off the coast of Maine over the last decade. Citizens have contributed in many ways to the project, including assessing sediment characteristics to make predictions about best sites for restoration, designing and trialing restoration methods, documenting project success, assessing the habitat function of restored habitat by enumerating species on eelgrass blades, mapping eelgrass spread from restored patches, and contributing to the “Eelgrass in Maine” project at Anecdata.org to document the extent of eelgrass loss along the coast of Maine.
Ecological restoration is a process, not an event. It may take many years, and the work involved may change from year to year. Unlike some citizen science projects, which only require data collection or observations by project participants, in restoration work there are multiple points of engagement. If restoration processes are still being refined for a given area, as with eelgrass restoration in Maine, those points of engagement may be different from year to year. Contact us to find out what is going on this year.
To learn more about citizen science initiatives at MDI Biological Laboratory, contact Education Director Jane Disney, Ph.D.