Student Snapshots: Use your phone this weekend to help wildlife

June 10, 2021 | Society, Science

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MacEwan University students like Areal Huang do great things. Our new Student Snapshots series is about sharing stories that illustrate their passion, experiences and accomplishments – both inside and outside of class. Huang (pictured here on her first-ever fishing trip) will be studying citizen science and biodiversity as part of her honours in biological sciences.


Areal Huang, a fourth-year biological sciences honours student, hopes Edmontonians will join her in the YEG BiodiverCity Challenge 2021 that’s happening June 10 to 13. The city-wide BioBlitz will use the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute’s NatureLynx app to generate data that Huang is using for her honours thesis.

“Monitoring biodiversity is really challenging,” she says. “Scientists often struggle to keep track of a single species, so options like citizen science – inviting people to gather and submit data that scientists can use – is potentially a great tool.”

NatureLynx users can upload photos of species they see (everything from ladybugs and magpies to caterpillars and coyotes), and ABMI’s team of experts will take care of identifying them. Then the data will make its way to Huang who will look at different characteristics of species sightings reported in the app – things like a species’ habitat, body size and even cultural significance. Ultimately, she and her honours supervisor, Dr. Jessica Haines, plan to use the NatureLynx data to determine the types of species for which crowdsourcing data through citizen scientists could make the greatest impact on species management and conservation.

It’s work that has big implications, says Huang. “We’re experiencing the sixth mass extinction, so finding ways to effectively monitor biodiversity is really important.”

And if you just can’t manage to snap any photos this weekend, don’t worry. You can upload photos anytime to help scientists learn more about the animals that call Edmonton home.

 

To be considered for a future Student Snapshots story, or to suggest someone we should feature, please contact our communications team at communications@macewan.ca.

 

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