Tag Archives: ecology

What is Penguin Watch 2.0?

We’re getting through the first round of Penguin Watch data- it’s amazing and it’s doing the job we wanted, which is to revolutionise the collection and processing of penguin data from the Southern Ocean – to disentangle the threats of climate change, fishing and direct human disturbance. The data are clearly excellent, but we’re now trying to automate processing them so that results can more rapidly influence policy.

In “PenguinWatch 2.0”, people will be able to see the results of their online efforts to monitor and conserve Antarctica’s penguins colonies. The more alert among you will notice that it’s not fully there yet, but we’re working on it!

We have loads of ideas on how to integrate this with the penguinwatch.org experience so that people are more engaged, learn more and realise what they are contributing to!

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For now, we’re doing this the old-fashioned way; anyone such as schools who want to be more engaged, can contact us (tom.hart@zoo.ox.ac.uk) and we’ll task you with a specific colony and feedback on that.

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Penguin Watch: Top images so far

Yesterday we launched our latest project: Penguin Watch. It is already proving to be one of the most popular projects we run, with over one hundred thousand classifications in the first day! The data come from 50 cameras focussed on the nesting areas of penguin colonies around the Southern Ocean. Volunteers are asked to tag adult penguins, chicks, and eggs.

Here are my favourite images uncovered by our volunteers so far: (click on an image to see what people are saying about it on Penguin Watch Talk)

1st Rule of Penguin Watch - You don't have to count them all. But I dare you to!
1st Rule of Penguin Watch – You don’t have to count them all. But I dare you to!

 

Living on the edge
Living on the edge
Penguins aren't always only black and white...
Penguins are always only black and white…
I think they want in!
I think they want in!
Spot the tourists
Spot the tourists
We're saved!
We’re saved!
Coming back from a refreshing afternoon swim
Coming back from a refreshing afternoon swim

 

See what amazing pictures you can find right now at www.penguinwatch.org

Helping the California Condor with ‘Condor Watch’

Today we’re launching a new, and hugely important Zooniverse project: Condor Watch. The are only around 200 California Condors living in the wild and they are in serious danger from lead poisoning, which they get by eating carcasses shot with lead bullets. Getting a better idea of how they interact and socialise is crucial to ongoing conservation efforts.

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Using camera traps, ecologists in the US have been observing them in the wild. However the sheer volume of images is now overwhelming. Starting today we need your help to look through the first set of data: 264,000 images of condors eating, socialising, and nesting. Ecologists need everyone’s help to identify the individual birds from their numbered tags. Your efforts on this project will help preserve an endangered species – and we think that’s really special.

Try it now at www.condorwatch.org

My Classroom Experience with Snapshot Serengeti

This post is from Debbie Soltis, a 2013 Zooniverse Teacher Ambassadors Workshop participant.  She teaches 9th grade Integrated Science and Astronomy at Chugiak High School in Chugiak, Alaska.  A 19-year classroom veteran, Mrs. Soltis enjoys presenting a variety of activities and hands-on experiences because she believes students learn best if they have fun and are motivated by authentic experiences. 

I recently uploaded my first Zooniverse lesson plan, Serengeti Ecology.  Since posting the lesson, I actually completed the lesson with my 9th grade Integrated Science students.  I also had a colleague do the lesson with his 9th graders for a total of about 80 students participating.  Two other colleagues are now also planning on using this lesson with their IS9 students. What follows are my reflections on my lesson and our students’ reactions.

My Zooniverse lesson was a supplement to the lessons I have done many times in my ecology unit.  My ecology unit always begins by trying to write a definition for life.  My students brainstorm characteristics of life and are then presented with a hands-on activity examining and testing three sand samples.  The sand samples are made using sand and salt; sand, sugar and yeast; and sand and crushed effervescent tablet.  Since the overall scientific question in the ecology unit is how do the biotic and abiotic factors interact to obtain matter and energy, another short lesson is a mini-field trip outside to observe, collect, and sort biotic and abiotic examples.

I created a worksheet for the students to complete in the computer lab while they explored Snapshot Serengeti.  Before going to the lab, I presented a modified powerpoint introduction to Zooniverse, the Serengeti project, and what they could expect. (Thanks, Kelly—good timing!)  The students loved the project!  They had no difficulties getting on the site, they were fascinated by the variety of unique pictures each of them had to explore, and they enthusiastically wanted to share with their friends or myself some of their more interesting snapshots.  One girl found a rainbow arcing over a wildebeest, another saw the butt ends of two young warthogs, and a third student replayed multiple times the three-frame sequence of a small herd of wildebeest and zebras. My colleague reported similar experiences with his students.  It was a very busy and productive period for all the students.  Several students even said they wanted to continue exploring the site at home! (And I did not even mention extra credit!)

Aside from the animals, I directed the students to look at the other biotic features in the snapshots—the grass, trees, and brush.  Observations led to inferences about the kind of climate the Serengeti has.  Overall, the students really liked the authentic scientific nature of the research being done as well as the fact they were contributing to that effort.  As I continue with predator-prey relationships, limiting factors, carrying capacity and other ecological concepts, I feel this lab has provided a real personal experience that will give them a solid foundation on which to scaffold these concepts. In summary, anyone who teaches a biology or ecology unit can use this site—it was fun, generated excitement, and provided a wonderful learning experience for all!