Since 1879, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences has documented the biodiversity of the southeastern U.S. and beyond. This incredible record of the region’s natural history has powerful applications for research, conservation, and education. However, much of this potential remains hidden away in historic written records. Join us! Become a Citizen Science Curator and unlock these hidden treasures. As you transform written records into a digital format you will make this valuable information available to anyone, anywhere in the world. Visit the CitSciScribe website and get started today!
Did you know that you have tiny organisms living all over your body? Bacteria perform all sorts of important functions that humans require to survive and there is a surprising diversity of them that live on our skin. The pilot phase of the project is currently underway, but soon you will be able to provide a sample of bacteria from your very own armpit! With samples collected from people like you, we hope to figure out exactly what kinds of microbes are living in our armpits, what those species might be doing in there, and if/how those species differ among people and our closest evolutionary relatives (primates).
Calling all outdoor cat owners! Cat Tracker uses GPS devices to record the movements of outdoor cats so we better understand where cats roam when they are hunting. Cats kill billions of birds and mammals each year, so if your cat roams outside consider following it with Cat Tracker to find out where it is going.
Dragonfly Detectives is an inquiry-based, afterschool science discovery program for North Carolina students grades 4-8. We bring students to NC State Parks throughout the state one afternoon a week for six weeks to study dragonflies in the field. Students learn how to do real science while learning about aquatic systems, animal migrations, dragonfly identification, careers in science, and other topics. Transportation costs, snacks, and a toolkit of gear for each student to keep are provided.
Dragonfly swarms are a rarely observed natural phenomenon and are difficult for any one person to research. The Dragonfly Swarm Project depends on reports made by people like you who have observed swarms to answer questions about why these swarms form, the conditions under which they form, and to help explain the benefit of these swarms to the environment. With your help, scientists now know more about this fascinating behavior than ever before and are starting to understand how a group of dragonflies benefits us all.
eMammal is a project where citizen scientists work in collaboration with researchers at the Museum and the Smithsonian Institution to document mammals throughout the mid-Atlantic region, and soon, the entire country. Citizen volunteers place “camera traps” (infrared motion-activated cameras) across the landscape in parks and other natural areas to collect photos of mammals. These photos help researchers answer questions about mammal distribution and abundance, and scientists can use this information for conservation.
We've teamed up with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to bring FrogWatch USA to the Museum! As a participant in this fun citizen science project, you will help scientists learn more about amphibians throughout the US by listening for frog and toad calls at night. The data gathered is used in conservation efforts, policy decisions, and a variety of research projects, so your contributions can help lead to the protection and greater understanding of the huge diversity of frogs and toads that call North Carolina home. Training is required before participation in this project, so search for FrogWatch on the events calendar to find the next training session and get started!
Scientists know a lot about some of the things we see everyday, such as birds, mammals, and butterflies. They know a lot less about some of the tiny things that live around us, in us, and on us. Help Museum scientists learn more about the tiny mites living in the pores of your face by participating in Meet Your Mites! Attend a sampling event at the Museum or hosted by the Your Wild Life team from NCSU and a team of expert mites hunters will sample the pores on your face for mites. If they find any (and surprise! - nearly every adult has mites), your mites will help us learn more about the diversity of Demodex mites among humans, track their evolution, and study the purported link between mites and certain skin disorders. We've already learned a lot about these amazing creatures thanks to the help of our citizen scientists, so look out for mite sampling events at some of the Musuem's special events and Your Wild Life outreach events.
North Carolina is an amazingly diverse state! We've set out to document all of the plants, animals, and fungi in the state for our Natural North Carolina project, and we need your help to do it. Simply sign up for a free account, snap photos of the natural things you see anywhere in North Carolina, and submit your photos to the project via the website or the iNaturalist smartphone app for iPhone or Android. Your sightings help scientists at the Museum and around the world learn more about the biodiversity, timing, and abundance of organisms throughout North Carolina - and it only takes a few seconds of your time to help.
Box turtles are under threat as expanding urbanization eliminates turtle habitats. With your help, this project documents box turtles in rural and suburban settings so that we can learn more about how turtles and humans can coexist in the same spaces. If you find a box turtle, snap a photo of the top and bottom, measure it, and record your location, then share your findings with us online. Your data will help us understand habitat use by box turtles and how they are adapting to living with humans.
The Neighborhood Nestwatch project gathers data on the survival of birds while teaching people about science in their own backyard. Our Museum has partnered with the Smithsonian to bring Neighborhood Nestwatch to the Carolinas. Throughout April, May, and June, Museum technicians visit homes to capture, measure, tag, and release target species of birds that occur on a given property. Homeowners then continue reporting banded birds and nest data for as long as possible.
Eggs are valuable for monitoring long-term environmental change, but due to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, most Museums today lack significant egg collections. House Sparrows only exist where humans exist and their environmental exposure might be representative of our own. With Sparrow Swap, we are legally reviving the hobby of egg collecting with non-native House Sparrows to monitor environmental change. We are also evaluating the effect of egg removal on house sparrow behavior and the consequences to native species they might impact.
The Museum is proud part of an innovative multi-institutional, $7.3 million National Science Foundation project aiming to bring citizen science to middle school students and get them involved in authentic science in their classrooms. The Students Discover project began in 2014. Students Discover brings together a stellar group of collaborators, including Museum researchers, researchers from NCSU's Your Wild Life team, the Kenan Fellows Program, the Science House, and Wake County Schools. Look for new citizen science projects and fun and informative educational modules coming out of this project over the next few years!