Author: Amy Slocombe

Changes to ACSA’s Member Portal

ACSA recently sought suggestions from our members  on how to improve the functionality and effectiveness of our website. Following this, we have decided to proceed with an initial upgrade to our Member Portal. Our new Member Portal will be a front-facing search facility, allowing people to search for a citizen science expert, communicate with others in a relevant field or increase their professional contacts list. This change should vastly increase the functionality of the portal and help provide the networking and connection opportunities that are so often requested.

All ACSA members will have the opportunity to be profiled in this portal, and the wider community will be able to search through it.

The portal will enable you to:

  • Update your profile to advertise your skills and specialities to others;
  • Search our vast membership database using keywords;
  • Link up with others in your field or geographical area;
  • Find an expert who can help you with your project.

Whether you’re a project coordinator looking for collaborators, a researcher looking for partners, a university student looking for experience, or a volunteer looking for a project near you, the new member portal should help provide the connections or information you need, and help increase your visibility and access to citizen science all over Australia.

For more information or to discuss further, please contact us.

ACSA-QLD – Nominations close 24th May

ACSA-QLD is seeking nominations to join its Chapter Management Committee!

The Queensland Chapter of ACSA was launched January 2019, and is now looking to build a vibrant program for the state’s community of practice (and interest). If you have a role in citizen science in Queensland and some time and energy to offer, please consider getting involved by joining the ACSA-QLD Management Committee in one of the following roles:

  • Chair
  • Vice Chair
  • Secretary / Treasurer (combined role)
  • General Committee Members (x4)

Descriptions of these roles are available here.

To nominate, please complete and submit the form online.

All Committee members must be (or must become) a subscribed member of ACSA.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact James Gullison on 0414 762 374 or via email j.gullison@griffith.edu.au.

Nominations close Sunday 24th May.

NESP Grants Open

The National Environmental Science Program (NESP) grants are open until 30 June 2020, seeking applicants to deliver research in applied environmental science to support decision-makers from across the Australian community. The program will be delivered through four thematic research hubs and seek to deliver national scale applied environmental research programs, but also strong engagement and outcomes with local communities. ACSA sees citizen science as a strong pathway to support these outcomes and is actively exploring opportunities to connect with bid consortia on collaborations and to communicate our identified research goals for our national Community of Practice. We would welcome any thoughts and ideas from our ACSA community on NESP engagement opportunities – please contact Amy.

Mapping citizen science in Australia

Just before COVID-19 threatened to change the world as we know it, and as the bushfires started raging across the country, Dr Yaela Golumbic, who you may remember from her CitSciOz18 blog, had embarked on a journey to map citizen science in Australia.

With help from many in this community, and responses from almost 100 citizen science project leaders, scientists and practitioners across Australia, this work has attracted much national and international interest. Initial findings from the research are now available in this participant report, providing a glimpse into the unique characteristics of our Australian citizen science community.

Bushfire recovery Project Finder is live

In mid-April CSIRO officially announced its partnership with ACSA and the Atlas of Living Australia in producing the Citizen Science Bushfire Project Finder. CSIRO’s Chief Executive Larry Marshall and Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews were both quoted in the media release with Minister Andrews reiterating her commitment to citizen science “Despite the challenges we are facing, the Australian spirit remains strong and it is obvious that our citizens are eager to do their part in the bushfire recovery process.” The Bushfire Project Finder features a geographic filter enabling users to identify available projects in their area. It can be accessed here.

The media release prompted a number of media inquiries with some great publicity resulting from this work. Have a listen to ALA’s Director Andre Zerger on ABC’s Goulburn-Murray (time stamp 2.19) or ACSA Chair Erin Roger followed by the Australian Museum’s Paul Flemons on ABC ACT and NSW radio (time stamp 1.47).

Thanks to all our members who contributed to this valuable piece of work. Updating the Project Finder with new projects that contribute to our understanding of recovery and resilience will be an ongoing commitment.

 

Australian Citizen Science Association statement on 2019/20 bushfires

The unprecedented Australian fires are devastating. They have led to the loss of lives, homes, habitats and livelihoods. Members of the Australian Citizen Science Association extend our deepest sympathies to those affected personally and also recognise the ecological grief that may be prompted by the scale of this crisis. 

In this time of extreme loss, we are also buoyed by the extraordinary response of individuals and communities in a time of crisis.  We believe there is a role for citizen science to assist across multiple disciplines, in many research and monitoring capacities. 

ACSA is a member-based community that supports, informs and develops citizen science. With this in mind, we are seeking to support conversations and plans that help further connect the citizen science community to contribute to the extraordinary and complex efforts required to organise a safe, strategic and coordinated response – both short and long-term.

We understand that there are many people who want to help with response. We do too. Please appreciate that the safety of you and others is paramount.  If considering citizen science activities, always ensure that the area you visit is cleared for entry, you are safe and that your activities do not interfere with the critical frontline work of emergency first responders. We are not currently promoting field based data collection. Emergency responses need to come first. Many volunteers are actively contributing to response efforts as firefighters, relief centre workers, and wildlife carers, while other people returning to their homes are putting out water or vegetables for wildlife remaining. Our thanks goes out to those contributing to these efforts.

The first four steps of ACSA’s approach is outlined below:

STEP 1 – Rapid community feedback

ACSA has commenced multiple processes for crowdsourcing information about what and how citizen science projects might contribute to the recovery of forests and ecosystems, monitor the effects of climate change, and empower citizens to create datasets that may positively influence climate policy.  

A quick call for ideas is open for feedback. No idea is too big or too small. You can share information about  existing projects and new concepts that could address a critical gap. As a community, we can work together to create and support imaginative, robust and impactful projects that will contribute to positive outcomes for science and society. We’ll share the ideas generated with you and use them as part of our citizen science advocacy in consultations with government and industry. 

STEP 2 – Community of practice discussion

We encourage our members to join the WILDLABS Bushfires Slack channels, in which several of our committee members, and representatives from response organizations such as Conservation Volunteers Australia, are already active. Please get involved in these conversations to share your insights and details of any active groups or discussions around citizen science bushfire responses so that we can link to these initiatives. There are several citizen science threads. The WILDLABS Slack link is <https://www.wildlabs.net/community/thread/825>. 

STEP 3 – Project audit & key needs

We are partnering with SciStarter and Atlas of Living Australia on a survey to compile a list of projects where citizen science data and data processing could be useful in helping to monitor the impacts and recovery from the bushfires and of a changing climate more broadly. We will be posting this survey soon – please stay tuned. 

This survey will be a first step in helping to support the broader conversations around how to maximise the positive contributions from citizen science for response and recovery efforts. If you manage or know about good projects, we very much value your feedback.  There are a huge range of existing citizen science projects that are already collecting data around relevant topics. 

Potential categories of needs and goals identified so far include:

    • post fire assessment and recovery (ecology and or biodiversity monitoring, documenting regrowth, identifying remaining patches of habitat, soil condition)
    • Wildlife and endangered species support (presence/absence, abundance, distribution, predator control)
    • Air quality, cloud, smoke monitoring etc. (empowering citizens to self-monitor or access nearby monitoring, coordinating citizen data)
    • Water quality, including runoff/ash issues (projects exist, coordinating/sharing role)
    • Health and well-being (respiratory issues, mental health, community sustainability)
    • Climate change observations, local weather conditions
    • Research (Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC
    • Shared global goals (Earth Challenge 2020, SDGs). 

We have also had a number of science, research and conservation organisations reach out. This conversation linking key needs from science, management and policy organisations and the Australian and global citizen science community is where ACSA seeks to focus our efforts. To help us consider ways to best connect the citizen science community with key needs, we welcome feedback on critical information gaps and key research needs where citizen science can help. 

STEP 4 – Long-term strategy

An effective response to coordinate citizen science contributions at this scale will require extensive strategy, consideration and collaboration. ACSA will work to develop a more long-term response together with you, our community. This will include approaches to best align the key data needs identified by science, management and communities with citizen science data collection, processing, analysis and sharing activities. 

We’re exploring ideas around how we can support constructive sessions at the upcoming ACSA National Citizen Science Conference (Oct 2020) and through other key advocacy and collaborative activities. We welcome your feedback to shape next steps. If you are interested in being part of a working group for a disaster recovery research stream of the conference, please contact cobi.calyx@unsw.edu.au.

ACSA stands with you and your communities, and we will support Australia’s response to the bushfire and climate crisis as best we can. As climate change continues to influence more aspects of our lives through both extreme events and other environmental, social, cultural and economic changes, we want to continue strengthening ACSA as a platform that can advocate for your priorities.

“Join Flutracking” Prof Paul Kelly urges Australians

On 6 April 2020 Professor Paul Kelly, Deputy Chief Health Officer, encouraged all Australians to join Flutracking to help track the spread of COVID-19.

Following this  Dr. Craig Dalton, co-ordinator of Flutracking.net reached out to ACSA and asked for our assistance in spreading this message far and wide.

Participating in this citizen science project is easy, and will provide incredibly valuable information that can help us track COVID-19 and other illness in real time.

Join Flutracking at https://info.flutracking.net/ and complete a simple 30 second survey once a week.

Join Flutracking now.

City Nature Challenge is GO!

“Imagine how many species we could document if everyone in Australia just spent a few hours a day for four days documenting the biodiversity in their own backyard!”

Sick of staying indoors? Have you heard about the biggest backyard bioblitz Australia has ever seen?  For the first time ever the City Nature Challenge is being contested by four Australian cities. Due to COVID-19, the City Nature Challenge (Australian organisers) are also encouraging everyone in Australia to join in the fun and bioblitz their own backyards (or balconies) in the name of science!

It all takes place from the 24th to 27th April inclusive, but there are also daily challenges leading up to the big event, so get the kids involved too!

Please note: the iNaturalist app is rated as ages 4+ in the Google and iOS app stores however you do need to be 13 years old to have an iNaturalist account so m Mum or Dad will need to supervise 4-12 year olds.

Want to do something fun and a bit unusual? Sunday the 26th of April is Moth Night.  Put up a white sheet outside under cover and shine a light onto it. Turn off all other lights and wait 10 minutes for the moths to find the sheet. Then start logging those moths. This is a great one to get the kids involved in too!

Click here for more information about Moth Night.

Enjoyed Moth Night? Look out for Shake A Tree Day!

Reminder: When bioblitzing your own backyard be sure to log in your observations as “obscured” for geoprivacy reasons.

Check out City Nature Challenge Redlands City QLD, City Nature Challenge: Geelong, City Nature Challenge: Greater Adelaide and City Nature Challenge 2020 / Sydney for details of our Aussie city competitors.

 

For the full media release go to:

https://citynaturechallengeaustralia.wordpress.com/2020/04/08/city-nature-challenge-2020-media-release/

Welcome to Global CitSciMonth!

Citizen Science Month offers thousands of opportunities for you to turn your curiosity into impact. There’s something for everyone, everywhere! If you are #HomeSchooling, #StayAtHome or just having a #Staycation you can join a project or event from wherever you are to help scientists answer questions they cannot answer without you. There is something on every day (and night) during CitSciMonth and most are suitable for students to join in online. Check out the calendar for more information here such as the Grey Mangrove Hunt or join the ACSA team in the Stall-A-Thon where we will be helping to find a cure for Alzheimers with Stall Catchers.

Note: Check the time zones before you sign up for web events as this is a global events month.

Is your favourite citizen science project celebrating Global Citizen Science Month? Please let us know so we can share the word on the ACSA social media accounts!

Are you ready to BioBlitz?

With less than 50 days until the 5th City Nature Challenge (CNC) the four Australian cities competing are busy training citizen scientists and getting the word out on social media. International founders and organisers, Lila Higgins (Natural History Museum of LA County) and Alison Young (California Academy of Sciences), anticipate more than 40,000 people worldwide will make & share over 1 million observations of nature in over 230 cities from the 24th to 27th of April inclusive. All Australian iNaturalist research-grade observations are added to the Atlas of Living Australia via the iNaturalist Australia node. You can read more about that here.

Philip Roetman and ACSA SA recently hosted their first CNC training session. Part one of “Using iNaturalist” can be found on the Adelaide City Nature Challenge YouTube channel here.

Redland City is meanwhile preparing for its first training event from 4pm-6pm on Saturday the 21st of March at Indigiscapes. Entry is free and open for all ages.

City of Geelong is running information sessions as part of it’s annual Geelong Nature Forum. Click here for more information.

Download the iNaturalist app and head to Redland City (QLD), City of Sydney (NSW), City of Geelong (VIC) or Greater Adelaide area (SA) from the 24-27th of April to participate in the City Nature Challenge 2020!