Before you mow down or dig up those dandelions, write down the date they started blooming! That’s what NatureWatch is hoping you’ll do. By asking ordinary people like you and me to become Citizen Scientists and participate in some easy environmental monitoring programs, they hope the combined research will help track the rapid changes in Canada’s biodiversity, our climate, and the natural environment.
There are four nature monitoring programs at the moment: FrogWatch, IceWatch, PlantWatch and WormWatch, with more to come. I’m thinking kids would love to help researchers count critters. And actually collecting the data needed and submitting it via the NatureWatch website is easy. As it says on the website, “If you’re a teacher, guide or scout leader, or someone with a bunch of kids to amuse on a sunny afternoon, get out your shovel and your smartphone and give WormWatch a try.”
I love that one of the plants to watch in Ontario is the dandelion. They need two significant dates for this plant: When the first flowers are open and when the first seed-head opens. If waiting for your weeds to set seed on your front lawn is not your thing, you could target a patch of dandelions somewhere else and still help out.
Information gathered through NatureWatch has already informed a variety of studies and reports. In fact, the data collected in the PlantWatch program, started by the University of Alberta in 1995, has been used in many articles published in scientific journals reporting on climate change in Canada.
Who knew dandelions could be so handy.