Project: Biodiversity PEEK
I love finding an opportunity for citizen science that joins more than one field of interest (the Smithsonian Digital Volunteers program is a great example of that as well). It just makes these types of projects all the more appealing for a wide range of participants, and proves time and time again that anyone can–and should!–do science. The Biodiversity PEEK program seeks to utilize photographic data submitted by local citizens or tourists “to aid real, global scientific efforts.”
All you have to do to participate is own a digital camera! When visiting one of the project locations (there are several, in stunning locations around the globe), simply snap a clear picture of plants or animals that you see. You can browse image galleries to get a feel for what others have uploaded, but you definitely do not have to be a professional photographer to participate–as long as the image is in focus, it’s useful. Then, upload your image to one of PEEK’s project galleries, and mark it on the map so that scientists can reference where, exactly, it was found. Instructions and links to all of the project locations and image galleries can be found here. Perhaps you’ve even taken a trip to one of these spots in the past, and have some potentially helpful photos hanging out on your hard drive!
How will these photos be useful to biologists? Believe it or not, citizen scientists with the PEEK program recently discovered a new species of frog in Payamino, a reserve in the Amazon! Beyond species discovery, the PEEK team also works extensively on conservation projects around the globe. So the more photographic data they have to aid in their work, especially from these remote locations, the better.
Biodiversity PEEK’s ultimate goal is to engage and educate people on a local level, so that they have the skills needed to act as stewards of their own communities’ wildlife and ecosystems. In addition to their photography program, they create classroom resource kits and lesson plans for teachers to utilize with their students, and sponsor training programs for local groups who want to learn more about conservation–such as this amazing trip they recently took to Vietnam. If you’d like more information about creating a PEEK group of your own, you can contact program coordinator Jo Bowman here. Whether you’re an experienced nature photographer, a tourist with a camera documenting their trip to the Amazon, a classroom teacher, or a grassroots nature enthusiast who wants to gain a better understanding of how to protect your local ecology, you can get involved with Biodiversity PEEK!
Photo Credit: Wikipedia