Calling all nature enthusiasts and aspiring scientists!
We are super excited to kick off a citizen science program this spring! Citizen science is the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.
We need your help to document the amphibians and reptiles that you see and hear in Oceana County and to submit observations to the Michigan Herp Atlas. The Michigan Herp Atlas is a statewide database that serves the purpose of collecting observational data about Michigan's native amphibians and reptiles (collectively known as herpetofauna or "herps"). The data allows professionals to document herp distribution and abundance to help assess changes in populations over time and measure species health. Citizens can contribute to the Michigan Herp Atlas by submitting personal observations (past or present) of any amphibian or reptile species through the project’s website or by using the mobile app to document sightings in real time.
Goals of the project in Oceana County include:
Contribute data to the Michigan Herp Atlas. Oceana County is under-recorded and a 1 to 2-year concerted effort would help fill in data gaps for herpetofauna in this region.
Get community involved in citizen science. It’s an opportunity for people to get out exploring, learning about, and appreciating the natural resources of Oceana County. Research has shown that connections with the natural world positively impact physical and emotional well-being, improve cognitive performance, and inspires people to conserve the natural world.
An indoor and outdoor training will take place on Saturday, April 27. Volunteer citizen scientists will learn how to identify target species, how to conduct frog and toad surveys, and how to report data. David Mifsud, who administers the Michigan Herp Atlas, will provide the training and support that we need to get this off the ground!
David Mifsud, aka “Turtle Dave,” is a certified professional wetland scientist through the International Society of Wetland Scientists, a certified professional ecologist through the Ecological Society of America, and Certified professional Wildlife Biologist through the Wildlife Society. The owner of Herpetological Resource and Management, he has worked for over 20 years in wildlife biology, wetland ecology, and habitat conservation and management, with an emphasis on herpetofauna. He is an authority in Michigan on conservation and management of amphibians and reptiles.