Citizen Science

Citizen Science Icon Image
• Participate regardless if you have a scientific background or not!
• Contribute to real-life research conducted by various instutions and universities
• Build up skills working in the field, collecting data, and making observations
Students looking through microscope
Students looking through microscopes

The Dragonfly Mercury Project

The Dragonfly Mercury Project (DMP) engages citizen scientists such as volunteers, students, and visitors in national parks across the country to collect dragonfly larvae from distinct sampling sites. At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, nets are used to collect nymphs from specific lakes or wetlands within the park. The samples are then sent to laboratories at the US Geological Survey or Dartmouth College for mercury analyses. The study provides baseline data to better understand the spatial distribution of mercury contamination in national parks. Mercury is a toxic pollutant that can harm human and wildlife health, threatening the natural resources the NPS is charged with protecting. The main source of human-caused mercury in remote national park environments is atmospheric deposition from coal-burning power plants. If mercury gets into the water, it can bio-accumulate in the bodies of dragonflies in their aquatic larval, or nymph, stages.

Impact of Climate on Sugar Maples

Become a citizen scientist and collect data on sugar maple trees at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore! Dr. Joshua Rapp from the University of Massachusetts is conducting research with a team known as ACERnet to monitor sap flow, sugar content, and the secondary chemistry of the sap in relation to climate conditions. (Acer is the scientific genus name of maple.) Until last year, ACERnet’s research has focused only on the east coast, with sites in Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Quebec. In 2016, with funding from the Department of Interior Northeast Climate Science Center two more sites were added, including a site at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Most research on maple syrup has taken place in the northeast, but lots of maple sugaring takes place in the Midwest. By adding a sap data collection site at Indiana Dunes, Dr. Rapp will fill in a blank spot in the scientific understanding of this issue.

Feeder Watch Program

Help with the Feeder Watch scientific study! Join us at the Douglas Center to record the birds that stop at the center's feeders. You don't have to be an expert birder; guides and reference material will be provided so you can identify birds. You can watch from inside for a true "birding" experience, or you can identify them from pictures taken with our birdfeeder camera, allowing you to get a better look at the birds before they fly away! This is an indoor activity and is available year-round. Call or email us to get started!

Last updated: July 25, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304


(219) 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

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