Nature and the Citizen Scientist

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Wordle image of the birds submitted to the WNYC and New York Times crowdsourced bird-watching map. A Wordle image of the birds submitted to the WNYC and New York Times crowdsourced bird-watching map. (WNYC)

Akiko Busch, writer, essayist and faculty member at the School of Visual Arts, reflects on her experiences as a citizen observing and documenting the Hudson Valley in her new book, The Incidental Steward: Reflections on Citizen Science (Yale University Press). She also explores the role modern amateur naturalists play in the preservation of place.

Listeners, are you participating in any citizen science projects? Are you reporting on animals, plants or fungi you observe? What kinds of species are you tracking, or what are you measuring? Leave your comment below!



Akiko Busch

Comments [7]

Joan from Westchester, new york

I live in westchester county. One of my grandsons lives in Dutchess County and the other grandson lives in Albany County.We have each put a soil thermometer in the ground so we can track the progress of the cicadas. I will alert them when the ground temperature in Westchester reaches 64 . We will then be able to track the progress of the cicadas and see how long it takes them to reach the northern counties.

Apr. 23 2013 11:58 AM
Liti from East Brunswick, New Jersey

Entomology is one field that benefits from citizen science, as was also mentioned in the report. National Moth Week is a global citizen science project that everyone, everywhere can participate in. All you need to do is turn on an outdoor light after sunset. And wait for moths to come to the light. Moths are important ecologically, and many are at least as beautiful as butterflies. They are seldom seen simply because they fly at night. Information is lacking on many species, and there are still many species to be discovered and described. National Moth Week and it's academic partners are encouraging participants to submit photographs of moths they observe.
For more information please check out the website at

Apr. 22 2013 01:12 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I've been doing radon testing in my kitchen for Sane Energy Project. This involves hanging a radon detector near my gas stove for about a week in Feb.-March, using the stove & oven as much as possible, & then sending the detector to a lab for analysis. These tests are being done in the 5 boroughs 3 years in a row, to establish a baseline level for radon levels in natural gas in case the Spectra pipeline is built, so there will be a record of earlier levels to show if it goes up. (The Marcellus Shale, the source of the natural gas the pipeline would carry, is high in radon.) More info is available at

Apr. 22 2013 12:00 PM
bort from Massachusetts

A great resource for finding citizen science projects!


"In a nutshell... This is the place to find out about, take part in, and contribute to science through recreational activities and research projects."

Apr. 22 2013 11:46 AM

Many of the trees that fell in Sandy top-sided because their roots were built to sustain winds from the west, not the east. I would love if there was a public project to re-enforce these beautiful old trees with steel cables...

Apr. 22 2013 11:37 AM

After Sandy, many of the trees could have been replanted with cranes and tractors, no one wanted to listen to me :(

Apr. 22 2013 11:34 AM
mick from Inwood

It's really hard not to hold it against someone when their speech sounds exactly like PR releases.

Apr. 22 2013 10:57 AM

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