Citizen science program seeks curious and engaged participants
Curious and engaged citizens are being called upon to assist biologists in safeguarding Gatineau Park. The Citizen Science Program welcomes individuals from all backgrounds, irrespective of their scientific expertise, to actively contribute to its initiatives. The program, established in collaboration with the Friends of Gatineau Park, has been operational since 2018. Its primary goal is to gain a better understanding of the park's biodiversity and implement measures for its protection.
Participants are encouraged to take part in the Citizen Science Program by becoming the eyes and ears in the field. Depending on the project, they may observe monarch butterflies, loons, or snowshoe hares in their natural habitats. These observations play a crucial role in providing valuable data to biologists, aiding in their research and conservation efforts.
One notable project within the program is Mission Monarch, which takes place in July and August. It focuses on collecting data regarding the distribution and abundance of monarch butterflies and milkweed, a vital plant in the monarch's life cycle. Participants explore specific sites identified by biologists, searching for monarch eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies. The data collected during these sessions is then shared with experts at Mission Monarch.
Another significant project involves combating invasive species, which pose a threat to native plants within Gatineau Park. Work bees are organized in September to remove these invasive alien plants and restore habitats as directed by biologists. The collective efforts of participants have already made a difference, particularly near Trail 60, where invasive alien plants like dwarf periwinkle have been successfully eradicated. As a result, native species such as ferns and bloodroot have started to reappear.
From January to mid-March, the Animal Tracks Inventory project provides an opportunity for participants to explore the park on foot, snowshoes, or cross-country skis. Their task is to identify and document animal tracks in the snow, contributing to biologists' understanding of mammal movements in the area.
Additionally, citizens can support biodiversity monitoring by reporting their observations of plant and animal species to relevant organizations. By actively engaging in monitoring efforts, participants contribute to ongoing research and conservation. Notable platforms frequently consulted by biologists include Sentinelle, eBird, iNaturalist, Mission Monarch, Carapace Project, Neighbourhood Bat Watch, Stop Carcasses! (Outaouais), Rainette.ca, and QuéBio. These platforms offer opportunities to record and share observations, aiding experts in their quest to comprehend Gatineau Park's natural wonders.
To register for the Citizen Science Program and become involved in this commendable initiative, interested individuals are encouraged to contact the Friends of Gatineau Park. Every participant plays a vital role in the protection and preservation of Gatineau Park's extraordinary biodiversity. By joining forces with fellow citizens, together we can ensure the longevity of this natural gem for future generations.
Photo caption: A curious observer examines a plant with a magnifying glass, uncovering hidden wonders in Gatineau Park.
Photo credit: Courtesy of the NCC