Nature Lab

By Bonnie Chasteen | July 1, 2017
From Missouri Conservationist: July 2017

Each month, we highlight research MDC uses to improve fish, forest, and wildlife management.

Citizen Science: More Observers, Better Data

In December 2012, Allison Volk noticed a bald eagle nest near her home in Warren County. A member of the Confluence Chapter of the Master Naturalist Program, Volk kept careful observations of the nest and got in touch with MDC Resource Scientist Janet Haslerig.

Haslerig monitors Missouri’s bald eagle nests every year. “I depend on observers like Allison to send me detailed information about the existence and success of local nests,” she said.

Volk is one of a small army of Missouri citizens who help MDC scientists collect data or restore essential habitat, such as wildflowers for pollinators. “People who spend time in the same place observe concrete evidence that our world is changing. We can provide a layperson’s knowledge to help support science,” Volk said.

Tom Kulowiec, MDC’s resource science administrative coordinator, explained how citizen scientists like Volk make the agency’s science better. “MDC doesn’t have enough employees at times to collect all the information we need. Citizen observers improve the quality of our information.”

Collecting and tracking data over time helps MDC know if things are changing, whether due to local influences like habitat loss or to more global influences like climate change. “Getting an accurate idea of habitat and population trends helps us improve management and set better regulations,” Kulowiec said.

  • 4,436 active Stream Teams in Missouri
  • Over 88,000 Steam Team members act as citizen scientists statewide
  • 9,320 Number of bowhunter wildlife observation volunteers
  • 9,709 Number of turkey brood observation volunteers
  • Over 400 eagle nest locations are reported annually by citizens observers.

If you’re interested in getting involved with one of MDC’s many citizen science opportunities, call Tom Kulowiec at 573-815-7902, ext. 2894. He can direct you to projects in need of your specific interests and skills.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler