Citizen science projects
This British Science Week (10 – 19 March 2017), our citizen science projects are all things penguin-related.
Firstly, we have partnered with Zooniverse on a visual project to monitor penguins in over 100 sites.
Join Penguin Watch…
For British Science Week 2017 we are partnering with the Zooniverse project, Penguin Watch. Penguin Watch is a partnership between the University of Oxford (Penguin lifelines), Australian Antarctic Division, Darwin Initiative, Quark Expeditions, and many more.
Penguin Watch is a visual project that, with the help of the public, aims annotate thousands of images of penguins and their habitats taken over the past three years.
By annotating the images, you are helping us to succeed in our project goals by obtaining quantitative data from photographs, which will directly improve our understanding of these species, while also assisting in their conservation. Your notations on the images will also aid in “training” a computer to automatically recognise penguin individuals. With your help, we hope that future image analysis can be automated for a range of species and speed up the lengthy data extraction process to produce near real-time results.
Since 2009, the Penguin Lifelines project at the University of Oxford (www.penguinlifelines.org) has sought to find novel solutions to the present data gaps, using satellite- linked cameras and genetic analysis. Together, these approaches have resulted in an integrated monitoring network that has the capacity to provide data to policy makers on areas particularly sensitive to fishing and human disturbance.
Their camera-monitoring program currently consists of 50 cameras throughout the Southern Ocean and along the Antarctic Peninsula, overlooking colonies of Gentoo, Chinstrap, Adélie, and King penguins. The cameras take images of the penguins year-round and are able to determine the health of the colony by obtaining nest survival rates while also observing novel behaviours, such as why and where penguins spend their winter months.
During British Science Week, we are aiming to monitor a further 10,000 images!
Currently, there are numerous serious threats to marine predators in the Southern Ocean: namely climate change, fisheries, and direct human disturbance. However, despite over a hundred years of study in the region, we have little baseline information against which to measure change. As we move away from scientific bases, less data is available on populations of predators and, consequently, huge gaps remain in our understanding of the Antarctic ecosystem.
As top predators, penguins are considered sentinels of changes within their ecosystem. Because penguins spend the majority of their life in water and fall at the top of the food chain, any variations in their populations may represent larger changes to the dynamic Antarctic ecosystem. We hope to measure these changes year- round at a large geographical range of study sites in order to better understand how threats to the ecosystem disrupt the dynamics of resident wildlife
Find out more and get involved at www.penguinwatch.org
Secondly, please watch this space for more resources and activities for families to participate in during British Science Week 2017…
Meanwhile, you can read about our successful citizen science projects and partnerships that took place during British Science Week 2015.