MNFI and other organizations train citizens in the methodology and protocols scientists use to identify and collect data on them. They use their training to:
Report Species Observations to MNFI
Citizen Scientists contribute to the heritage database through reports of species observed while exploring in Michigan. Their information informs scientific research, aids in land use and conservation planning, and provides needed information for decision makers. Submit information online or print out our field forms at: mnfi.anr.msu.edu/species/report.
Participate in Projects
Vernal Pool Mapping Project
As part of an ongoing statewide project, MNFI is training citizen scientists in the methodology and protocols to identify and collect data on vernal pools. In 2014 and 2015, volunteers of all ages from Huron Pines and Little Traverse Conservancy, and teachers and students from several middle and high schools in northern Michigan joined the effort. This program, which includes place-based education for students, will expand to other parts of the state in the future.
Michigan Marsh Bird Survey
Much remains unknown about secretive marsh birds (e.g., grebes, bitterns, and rails), including population abundance and trends, habitat requirements, and limiting factors. There is anecdotal evidence that these species have been declining over several decades. However, these species are not adequately surveyed by other programs, and better data are needed to address their conservation. To fill this information gap, scientists developed a standardized marsh bird survey protocol and sample design. What is the role of citizen scientists? Do they help collect data on this one? MNFI combines our survey data with other states in the Midwest Avian Data Center to better track marsh bird populations, plan conservation activities, assess habitat associations, and evaluate the effects of conservation actions.
The Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) relies on citizens to report the observations of invasive plants. Download the app on your smartphone and help battle invasive species with early detection.