NANPA Citizen Science

Use Your Photography to Become a Citizen Scientist

Put your photography to use for conservation projects around the country. NANPA’s Conservation Committee has developed this database of ongoing citizen science biodiversity projects which directly benefit from your nature photography. Whether you like photographing songbirds, dragonflies, or even seahorses, there’s a project for you! Visit the listed website for further details on the project and how you can get involved to put your photography to use on ongoing conservation projects.

Do you know of other local, regional, or national citizen science projects or a conservation project that could use a nature photographer’s help? Contact Andrew Snyder to get additional projects listed.

CategoryProject NameProject InformationGeographic RegionPhotographer ContributionWebsite
CrabsThe Horseshoe Count"In the absence of human interference, horseshoe crabs have successfully evolved for over 475 million years. ERDG [Ecological Research & Development Group] has made a commitment to protect this remarkable mariner who plays a vital role in nature's delicately balanced food web and whose life-sustaining contributions to humanity have yet to be fully realized. We believe that the foundation of a successful conservation program is effective public education and coastal community support, in conjunction with conservation initiatives, both terrestrial and aquatic, that preserve essential habitat and minimize human impact.DE and NJPhotographers can help create a visual record of the spawning beaches which ultimately show changes over time. They can also assist in actual counts of individual crabs as well as visually report horseshoe crab sightings, tags, and additional spawning beach sites. http://www.horseshoecrab.org/act/count.html
ButterfliesNorth America Butterfly AssociationThe sightings you enter provide important information that the North American Butterfly Association will analyze to help answer scientists' questions about butterfly distributions, abundance, and conservation. Your data can also provide critical insights about how environmental factors such as pollution can affect delicate natural ecosystems, and perhaps assist in the passing of new legislation and regulations that will ensure the safety and existence of butterflies for a long time to come. We hope that you enjoy the web site, and the fact that your entries are aiding in the study and conservation of butterfly populations in North America.Nationwide with regional chaptersPhotographers can keep track of all butterfly sightings. Once sightings are entered, they can be retrieved by location, date, or species. The site also offers the ability to print out a list of all the butterfly species you have ever seen - a Life List. These images help scientists better understand butterfly distribution and abundances.http://www.naba.org/
BirdsGreat Backyard Bird CountLaunched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. Now, more than 160,000 people of all ages and walks of life worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.NationwidePhotographers contribute images of birds taken during the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.http://gbbc.birdcount.org/
BirdsProject FeederWatchProject FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch.NationwidePhotographers can contribute images to become FeederWatch data which will help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.http://feederwatch.org/
BirdsJourney North - HummingbirdsJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. NationwidePhotographers can contribute their images to help track the migration of hummingbirds as they travel to and from their wintering grounds. Images help researchers observe seasonal changes via reported hummingbird sightingshttps://journeynorth.org/hummingbirds
ButterfliesJourney North - Monarch ButterfliesJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. NationwidePhotographers can contribute images to help scientists track the monarch's migration to and from Mexico each spring and fall to aid in their conservation needs.https://journeynorth.org/monarchs
BirdsJourney North - American RobinsJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. NationwidePhotographers can contribute images of robins to help scientists track their movements from year to year.https://journeynorth.org/robins
Migratory SpeciesJourney North - Sunlight and SeasonsJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. NationwidePhotographers can help track seasonal changes in daylight to help scientists identify patterns. Images reported on the 20th of every month, the Equinox, and the Solstice, tie in with images of migratory species with Journey North. https://journeynorth.org/sunlight-seasons
BirdsJourney North - Songbird MigrationJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. NationwidePhotographers can contribute images of songbirds to help track their seasonal migration.https://journeynorth.org/weather-songbirds
WhalesJourney North - Gray WhalesJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. West CoastPhotographers can help scientists track the movement of gray whales between their feeding/fattening grounds and their birthing grounds.https://journeynorth.org/gwhale/
FrogsJourney North - FrogsJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. Regional depending on frog speciesCitizen scientists/photographers can report the first singing frogs of spring and help monitor frog populations and phenology by reporting the timing of this spring life cycle event. The target species include the Chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata), Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer), Spotted Chorus frog (Pseudacris clarkii), and the Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla). https://journeynorth.org/frog/
BirdsJourney North - Barn SwallowJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. NationwidePhotographers can contribute images of barn swallows when they first arrive to the region in the spring to track their yearly migration north.https://journeynorth.org/swallow/
BirdsJourney North - Common LoonJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. Coastal United States (Winter Range) Northern United States and Canada (Breeding Range)Photographers can contribute images of the first sightings of the common loon in the spring in conjunction with reporting and tracking "ice-out" with the loon migration.https://journeynorth.org/loon/
BirdsJourney North - Red winged blackbirdsJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. NationwidePhotographers can help track the redwing blackbird migration all over the continent as they move from where they overwinter (in fields, pastures, and agricultural areas) and transition into spring behavior and return to marshes. Photographers contribute images of the first redwing sightings as well as other redwing behavior sightings.https://journeynorth.org/rwbb/
EarthwormsJourney North - EarthwormsJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. NationwideEarthworms undertake a "vertical migration" each spring which is often connected to the first arrival of robins. Photographers can contribute images of the first earthworms of the season to help document the regional timing of their migration. https://journeynorth.org/worm/
BirdsJourney North - OriolesJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. NationwidePhotographers can contribute images of the first Baltimore and Bullock Orioles that they encounter each spring after arriving from their southern wintering grounds. Photographers are encouraged to place an oriole feeder and document sightings in conjunction with the "leaf- out" project. Photographers are also encouraged to contribute images of the first signs of orioles building their nest. https://journeynorth.org/oriole/
TreesJourney North Leaf-OutJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. NationwidePhotographers can contribute images of leaves of Sugar Maples, Flowering Dogwoods, Redbuds, and Quaking Aspen when leaves are the size of a US quarter. This data ties in with other projects such as songbird and oriole migration to tie bird migration patterns with tree phenology. https://journeynorth.org/tm/spring/AboutLeaf.html
WaterJourney North - Ice - OutJourney North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results. Reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments. Nationwide"Ice-out" is the term for when ice cover melts from lakes, rivers, ponds and oceans during the spring. Photographers can choose a frozen body of water and document the "ice-out" event (when the body of water is 90% free of ice) in order to compare the date of occurrence each year.https://journeynorth.org/ice/
PlantsAppalachian Mountain Club"Mountain Watch is a citizen science program engaging hikers in hands-on monitoring of air quality and climate change. Through activities along the trail and at AMC high huts, we provide opportunities to learn about air pollution’s impacts to visibility, climate trends in the mountains, and the impacts of recent climate change on plant flowering and fruiting times and other seasonal biological events."Appalachian and Northeast mountain areasPhotographers can help document the timing of flowering and fruiting along mountain trails and adjacent lands.https://www.outdoors.org/conservation/climate-energy/citizen-science
ButterfliesMonarch Larva Monitoring Project"The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. It was developed in 1997 by researchers at the University of Minnesota to collect long-term data on larval monarch populations and milkweed habitat. The project focuses on monarch distribution and abundance during the breeding season in North America."NationwidePhotographers can conduct surveys in their local areas for milkweed and monarch butterfly larva, and the findings and images will aid in conserving monarchs and their threatened migratory phenomenon, and advance our understanding of butterfly ecology in general.http://monarchlab.org/mlmp
Plants & AnimalsNature's Notebook"Nature's Notebook is a national, online program where amateur and professional naturalists regularly record observations of plants and animals to generate long-term data sets used for scientific discovery and decision-making."Nationwide Photographers can contribute images of over 1,260 plants and animals encountered throughout the year to document seasonal changes.https://www.usanpn.org/natures_notebook
PlantsProject Budburst"Budburst brings together researchers, educators, gardeners, and citizen scientists on a shared journey to uncover the stories of how plants are affected by a changing climate. We hope that sharing these stories will increase appreciation of plants and the natural world and inspire conservation action."NationwidePhotographers can contribute images of five plant groups (wildflowers and herbs, deciduous trees and shrubs, conifers, evergreen trees and shrubs, and grasses) focusing on careful observations of the timing of plant life cycle events to better understand how plant species and ecosystems respond to changes in climate locally, regionally, and nationallyhttp://www.budburst.org
EnvironmentAppalachian Mountain Club"Mountain Watch is a citizen science program engaging hikers in hands-on monitoring of air quality and climate change. Through activities along the trail and at AMC high huts, we provide opportunities to learn about air pollution’s impacts to visibility, climate trends in the mountains, and the impacts of recent climate change on plant flowering and fruiting times and other seasonal biological events."Appalachian and Northeast mountain areasPhotographs taken from Appalachian top in conjunction with a statement of your opinion on whether the visibility on the day of the hike was "acceptable" or "unacceptable" in order to help scientists study air quality and haze pollutionhttps://www.outdoors.org/conservation/climate-energy/citizen-science
BirdseBird"eBird transforms a global birding community’s passion for birds into critical data for research, conservation, and education. By building tools that engage the global birding community, eBird gathers unprecedented volumes of information on where and when birds occur in the world...eBird collects ‘complete checklist‘ data, providing year-round information on all bird species at high spatial and temporal resolutions."WorldwidePhotographers can provide images which contribute to bird distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends by including the when, where, and how they went birding, and then fill out a checklist of all the birds seen and heard during the outing.https://www.ebird.com
PlantsGlobal Garlic Mustard Field SurveyMany invasive species, like Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), are threatening the world’s natural resources, but the abundance of invasive species can vary dramatically over space and time…Through large-scale sampling, scientists can identify areas that differ in the intensity of invasion and try to understand why these differences exist. We can also compare this to variation in the native range. This may be crucial to researching new methods of control, but a large project like this could cost millions of dollars and years of work.NationwidePhotographers can record images of Garlic mustard plants to identify where invasive populations occur.https://garlicmustard.wordpress.com/
InsectsBeeSpotterBeeSpotter is a partnership between citizen-scientists and the professional science community designed to educate the public about pollinators by engaging them in a data collection effort of importance to the nation.Currently only Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and OhioPhotographers can submit images of bees which will aid in baseline information on population status in the listed states.http://beespotter.org/
InsectsBugGuideMore than just a clearinghouse for information, this site helps expand on the natural histories of our subjects. By capturing the place and time that submitted images were taken, we are creating a virtual collection that helps define where and when things might be found.United States and CanadaPhotographers contribute images of insects, bugs, and spiders of bugs from the United States and Canada for identification and research.http://www.bugguide.net
InsectsBumble Bee Watch"Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees."North AmericaPhotographers contribute images of bumble bees throughout the United States which will help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees, help locate rare or endangered populations of bumble bees, and learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts.
http://www.bumblebeewatch.org
BirdsCelebrate Urban Birds"Founded in 2007, Celebrate Urban Birds is a year-round project developed and launched by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology... [one] of our goals is to collect high-quality data from participants that will provide us with valuable knowledge of how different environments will influence the location of birds in urban areas."North AmericaPhotographers pick an urban location approximately 50'x50' to observe for ten minutes, and report all finds of focal species. Contributors are encouraged to repeat the bird watch in the same area two more times. https://celebrateurbanbirds.org/
ButterflieseButterfly"e-Butterfly documents the presence or absence of species as well as abundance through checklist data. A web-interface engages participants to submit their observations through interactive questions and answers. eButterfly encourages users to participate repeatedly by providing tools to maintain their personal observations and photo records as well as providing tools to enable them to visualize data with interactive maps, graphs, and bar charts"North AmericaPhotographers contribute images of butterflies and fill out a checklist of all the butterflies seen during the outing. The data may help inform how butterflies populations and phenology have changed across North America.http://www.e-butterfly.org/
Marine MammalseOceans"eOceans specializes in using citizen science to describe social, ecological, environmental, policy and economic trends of marine animal populations and human use patterns. We work hard to combine citizen science data with other data, often within meta-analytical frameworks, to fill essential data gaps."WorldwideAny photographers that are divers, snorkelers, fishers, surfers, sailors, and researchers can contribute images of their current target areas including sharks, rays, turtles, whales, seahorses, jellyfish, seals, tourism, marine litter, shark sanctuaries, and fishing"https://www.eOceans.org
Plants & AnimalsiNaturalistiNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 750,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.WorldwidePhotographers provide images of all species of flora and fauna into a database. Identification is confirmed by experts, which contribute to species' distribution and migration patterns. https://www.inaturalist.org
InsectsOdonata Central"OdonataCentral is designed to gather and disseminate information about dragonfly and damselfly distribution and abundance across the Western Hemisphere." North AmericaPhotographers use their images to document location and timing of observations of all species of dragonflies and damselflies throughout North America.http://www.odonatacentral.org/
BirdsNestWatch"NestWatch is a nationwide monitoring program designed to track status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive. Our database is intended to be used to study the current condition of breeding bird populations and how they may be changing over time as a result of climate change, habitat degradation and loss, expansion of urban areas, and the introduction of non-native plants and animals. "NationwideAfter becoming a certified NestWatch monitor, photographers can contribute images while monitoring active nests.https://nestwatch.org/
Amphibians & ReptilesNorth America Herpetological Education and Research Project"The North American Herpetological Education and Research Project (HERP) database is a repository of sightings and information on North American herpetofauna contributed by amateur citizen scientists and professional herpetologists. These sightings are collected and moderated with the goal of disseminating observational herpetological data to appropriate scientific, academic, governmental, regulatory, research agencies and other approved projects. It is a great tool for helping to map distribution of North American reptiles and amphibians."North AmericaPhotographers can join the project and contribute images as photographic record of amphibians and reptiles encountered throughout the country which aids future conservation and understanding.http://www.naherp.com/
Amphibians & ReptilesHerpMapper"HerpMapper is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization designed to gather and share information about reptile and amphibian observations across the planet. Using HerpMapper, you can create records of your herp observations and keep them all in one place. In turn, your data is made available to HerpMapper Partners – groups who use your recorded observations for research, conservation, and preservation purposes. Your observations can make valuable contributions on the behalf of amphibians and reptiles."WorldwidePhotographers can contribute images with GPS coordinates as voucher records which aid conservation research.https://www.herpmapper.org
BirdsPerky-Pet® Hummingbird Migration MapPerky-Pet® Hummingbird Migration Map is an interactive tool that helps citizens participate in tracking hummingbirds as the migrate throughout the yearNationwidePhotographers can upload images of hummingbirds encountered to help update the Hummingbird Migration map in real timehttp://www.birdfeeders.com/advice/bird-watching/hummingbird-migration
SeahorsesiSeahorse" Simply put, iSeahorse is a tool for seahorse science and conservation.
iSeahorse harnesses the power of ‘citizen scientists’ — anyone, anywhere in the world who sees a seahorse in the wild — to improve our understanding of these animals and protect them from overfishing and other threats. "
Worldwide" Anyone can join iSeahorse. Whether you’re a diver, a fisher, a scientist, a seahorse enthusiast, or just on a beach holiday, you can upload your photos and observations to iSeahorse. You can help identify seahorse species. You can advocate for their protection in your ocean neighborhood."https://www.iseahorse.org/
RoadkillProject Roadkill"In Project Roadkill you can participate in a scientific project with the aim to reduce roadkill. In this project we investigate, which animals are killed on roads and which factors are influencing roadkills. Your data allows us to identify roadkill hotspots. Our vision is to mitigate those hotspots in cooperation with local authorities."WorldwidePhotographers can contribute images of all encountered roadkill animals into a global database.http://www.roadkill.at