A network to monitor species and their interactions across Georgia
Here we envision a scientific and educational network coordinated by the University of Georgia's College
of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences to monitor species and their interactions across Georgia.
This network would
collect data to understand and manage species in agricultural and natural systems
improve science education by providing hands-on research opportunities
recruit minorities to careers in science and agriculture
enhance young people's experience with nature,
improving their health, academic performance and environmental awareness.
Our ultimate vision is a national network of study sites to teach science and
investigate how species are affected by climate, pollution, invasive species, pests, diseases, and other large-scale factors.
In partnership with the Organization of Biological Field Stations, Discover Life (www.discoverlife.org) has set up over 40 initial
study sites across the United States and Central America.
Now, working with the University of Georgia's 4-H and Young Scholars Program, we propose to build a dense network
of study sites in Georgia.
We envision the following components:
- Technology --
For over a decade, Discover Life has developed web tools and protocols
for students and the public to collect high-quality biological data using digital photography.
This website has served over 900 million hits and now averages over a quarter of a million monthly users.
Its technical advances enable anyone to collect, identify, integrate and analyze
high-quality digital observations about organisms across geographical and temporal scales.
Together we can now document how weather and other large-scale factors affect the phenology, distribution,
abundance and interactions of plants, insects, and other organisms.
- County sites --
We propose to study regional differences, land use, and the urban heat island effect
by comparing sites in the mountains, coastal plain, and piedmont, including Metro Atlanta.
Within three years, we propose to have sites at schools, parks, and nature centers in 40 counties.
Teachers and 4-H agents will supervise students and volunteers to collect data at these sites.
Discover Life will provide participants with albums and technical support for managing and sharing photographic data.
- 4-H Centers --
We propose to develop standards-aligned science lesson plans for upper elementary and older students
and implement these at the five 4-H centers in Georgia. Thus, we envision large numbers of students
participating in collecting data and learning about environmental issues.
- Minority Recruitment -- We propose to work with the Young Scholars Program to recruit and train underserved students.
We worked with four high school student interns in summer 2010 and will work with six in 2011, including Young Scholars in Griffin and Athens.
- Research Protocols --
We will work with two main research protocols.
In a "Nature Walk" component, students will survey the same trail or transect over time and photograph leaf-out of trees,
blooming wildflowers, pollinators and other visiting insects.
In a "Moth Party" component, students will photograph moths and other nocturnal creatures.
Students will then help identify the species they photograph and can specialize to become an expert in a certain group.
- Educational Outcomes --
Through our protocols students learn ecology, natural history,
databasing skills, mapping and other web tools, and digital photography.
They can use our tools and protocols to conduct their own original research, in which case they will also have an opportunity
to learn characteristics of science.
As a means to excite them about natural history, students can keep their own albums and maintain
a life list of species they have photographed.
- Teacher Training -- With funding from Georgia's Teacher Quality Higher Education Program, we
will train over 20 teachers in the use of Discover Life's research protocols starting in July 2011. We hope that some of these teachers
will continue to work with us in building the network. We anticipate giving similar training to additional teachers in subsequent years.
- Identification Guides -- With support from the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Science Foundation,
Discover Life and its partners are building over 500 on-line identification guides. We are in the process of customizing
plant, moth and lichen guides that will help identify Georgia species.
- Funding --
We plan to submit a proposal to the National Science Foundation's Informal Science Education Program
in January 2012 to fund the Georgia network for three years.
The budget will primarily support the Young Scholars Program to recruit and employ underserved students in conducting research at the study sites.
If successful, we will submit a subsequent proposal to expand the number of sites in Georgia and build a national network.
Updated: 17 May, 2011.
Please send comments to Nancy Lowe -- firstname.lastname@example.org