Become a Citizen Scientist!

Sound Wave Bat - Urban Hermits

So you happen to have some time on your hands, let’s say 5 minutes. Is your first move to pull up Facebook or play a game? What if you could play games that help scientists collect or manage data for various projects? Well, this is one of the great benefits of citizen science. For example, Bat Detective has accumulated thousands of bat sound recordings to aid in tracking populations effected by global change. However, without a availability of free ears, the project would be extremely set back by time constraints. This is where you come in. With even five minutes, you can sit down and test your brain to identify bat calls.

Below is some other projects of note:

Cell Slider hosts anonymous cancer slides that require analyzing. “This would accelerate research and free up scientists to tackle other research opportunities. Imagine the collective force of hundreds of thousands of people accelerating the race to discover personalized cancer treatments. If we stand united, cancer doesn’t stand a chance, ” say the creators.

Audubon Christmas Bird Count – Now free to participate – help track bird migratory patterns.

Dark Sky Meter  – Collect data on light pollution and night conditions by using a free app to record.

Project Feeder Watch – A winter project, collect data about what birds comes to your feeder.

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project – Help track monarch butterfly populations and nests (and I recommend you read this article by the New York Times.)

Want a great place to start your citizen science search? Try Sci Starter. Do you know of a project that we haven’t heard of? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Image: Lauren Korany, Urban Hermits, 02 December 2013;

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All About Bats!

As you know, we here at Urban Hermits are fascinated by our fellow creatures. One creature is an important pollinator and the only mammal that can fly (the flying squirrel does not truly fly): the Bat! Unfortunately, loss of habitat as well as a lethal fungal infection known as White-Nose Syndrome have seriously threatened the U.S. population. While some people find bats creepy, they provide benefits to humans by keeping the insect population in check, which I am thankful for during this time of year. Below are some interesting links about bats.

Penn State University’s Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center has recently seen a collapse in their bat population due to White-Nose Syndrome. Here are some interesting details about this problem.

Centre Wildlife Rescue in Centre County, PA provides information on rehabbing bats HERE

Finally, BBC Nature has a great article about “giving nature a home”. This includes tips about building your own bat box!

Sources: Barr, Bianca. “Shaver’s Creek witnessing collapse of Pennsylvania bat population”. Penn State News. 11 June 2013.

 “In pictures: giving nature a home”. BBC Nature. 11 June 2013.

Strohmier, Matt. “Rehabing bat with Centre Wildlife Care”. WeAreCentralPA.com. 14 June 2013.

Image: Cici, Caitlin. Penn State News.

A Map for the Honey Bees!

Honey Bee Haven has created an interactive map showing where community members have created flourishing zones for bees to thrive. Bee (and pollinator) populations are taking a blow from current agricultural practices, specifically pesticides. You can take the pledge to create an environment in your own living space to benefit bees, then can upload your haven location to the map. Photos of your location can be uploaded as well!

The site states:

Bees pollinate a significant majority of the world’s food. In North America alone, honey bees pollinate nearly 95 kinds of fruits, including almonds, avocados, cranberries and apples. In fact, we can thank honey bees for one in three bites of food we eat.

Join others in taking part to protecting our pollinators!

Honey Bee Haven Map Screenshot

Source: Andrew Olsen and Sara Knight, Pesticide Action Network, Beyond Pesticides, 2013