Citizen science projects allow non-scientists to observe, record, and share the data they find with scientists and land managers, helping them better manage our public lands and the plants and animals that exist around us. Regardless of experience and training, citizen scientists can help make the world a better place and have fun while doing it.
The Life of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
Participants seek out and find species of plants and animals within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and record their sightings on their smart phones using the iNaturalist app*. Participants have recorded over 700 species, including several species previously unknown in the park.
The Minnesota Metro Otter Survey
The Minnesota Metro Otter Survey is a collaboration between the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project and the U.S. National Park Service's Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Using the iNaturalist app*, you can help us better understand the status and distribution of the river otters in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area.
* How to Get Started on iNaturalist
The two projects above use the iNaturalist app. Download the app, set up an account, and start snapping photos of plants and animals found within the study area. (You can only upload sightings to the area described.) These photos are geotagged by your smart phone and automatically uploaded to the website either through a wireless system when you get within range or through your smart phone data plan. You can also take photographs with more conventional cameras and upload them to the website from your laptop or desktop computer.
The iNaturalist app uses recognition analysis to help you identify what you photographed. If the recognition feature doesn't work there are experts on iNaturalist that will help you make an identification.
Not only does getting involved in these projects a great way to help out this national park, but it is a great way to become a better naturalist, too!