Community Science

Also known as “Citizen Science”

To promote inclusivity and accessibility, Seatuck is now using the term “community science,” as well as “citizen science,” when referring to our conservation projects. While citizen science recognizes the individual and unstructured nature of data collection that many environmentalists cherish, community science encourages a more connected system.

We want our projects to be an opportunity for individuals, friends, and families to gather and work on conservation initiatives that are important to them. Our projects also link to the larger community because this valuable research is used by local governments, companies, business owners, and homeowners. “It is important to us that the opportunity to engage in environmentalism and conservation be available to everyone, not just those thought of as “traditional citizens”. By working together as a community, we can spread environmental awareness and knowledge while working on local or regional conservation issues.

Because it is much harder to gather groups to collect data together during the pandemic, the “community” part of community science is forced to be more separated than we would like. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still participate! Take a walk by yourself, with your family, or on the phone with friends to get outside and continue engaging in conserving Long Island’s precious nature.

Community Science Surveys

Seatuck manages and participates in a range of wildlife surveys and other “citizen science” projects throughout the year. Some are Seatuck-initiated efforts to gather baseline wildlife information about wildlife on Long Island; others are regional, statewide or nationwide programs in which Seatuck participates, assuming responsibility for a certain location or region on Long Island. Volunteers are welcome, no experience is necessary, and training is provided. Many of these projects are suitable for incorporating educational components and can include class or private group participation. Contact us at staff@seatuck.org or 631-581-6908 for more information.

Summer

In the warmer months, bats can be found flying around the tree-line as they hunt for insects. They usually can be seen around early dawn or dusk and are most abundant around bodies of water (like streams or ponds) where a lot of flying insects might be congregating. Then in the winter, bats will take shelter, or hibernate. Bats can also be found in people’s homes or buildings as they are looking for a place to roost, a place to live, in the summer or possibly hibernate in the winter. Batmap Long Island is a community science project designed to collect information about bats across Long Island. Data submitted by volunteers through the Batmap app will inform efforts to identify important foraging and roosting areas, and perhaps even overwintering locations on Long Island.

Year-Round

There are estimated to be more than 20,000 coyotes in New York and over 5,000 in New Jersey. Westchester has a thriving population and coyotes are firmly established in the parklands of the Bronx. In an effort to monitor the colonization of our region by Eastern Coyotes, Seatuck and our partners in the Long Island Coyote Study group ask participants to report any possible coyote sightings though our Coyote Tracker survey.

Summer

Seatuck has been at the forefront of efforts to safeguard and restore Diamondback Terrapins on Long Island. The iconic turtle, which was once ubiquitous in the region’s many coastal embayments, is imperiled across its range. Seatuck and our partners in the Long Island Terrapin Work Group are seeking help from volunteer community scientists to gather more information about diamondback terrapin nesting and foraging habitats using the Terrapin Watch online survey.

March – May

Seatuck is working with partners across the region to improve access and restore local populations of these ecologically important fish. The Long Island Volunteer River Herring and Eel Survey – organized by Seatuck and our partners at the Long Island Sound Study, Peconic Estuary Program and South Shore Estuary Reserve – aims to find the waterways where “remnant” runs of river herring still exist and then to monitor the size and timing of those runs.

November – April

Over the course of the Fur Trade Era extending from the 1600s into the 1800s, unregulated trapping and hunting, along with bounties on specific wildlife species, combined to decimate populations of furbearers throughout their range in North America. Thanks to conservation laws and wildlife restoration projects, river otters have begun to recolonize habitats across Long Island that they once called home. You can help monitor their recolonization by joining the Otter Watch.

May – June

Each spring, Horseshoe Crabs migrate from the depths to sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast to spawn and lay millions of eggs at the water’s edge. These nutrient rich eggs are a boon to countless species and are one of the reasons horseshoe crabs are considered a cornerstone species in Long Island’s coastal ecosystem. Help Seatuck monitor juvenile horseshoe crabs to help protect the future of this important and ancient species.

In addition to our major community science projects, there are additional ways for people to get involved in gathering important wildlife data on Long Island. You can learn more about these opportunities here.