Scientists and Citizens

Scientists and Citizens


[upbeat music]
[waves crashing] Kevin Skerl: Sleeping Bear Dunes
is a special place because of the glacial features
that are here. They’re very dramatic sand dune
systems. You know, many natural features
like rivers and streams. Research in national parks
is important to us, because these lands are
the people’s lands, and we look at the park as kind
of the nation’s laboratory. And it’s important to us
as resource managers to understand our resources
better, so that we can better protect
them. [birds chirping, water flowing] Kevin Skerl: So Dr. DeWalt’s
research is important, because often invertebrate
species are kind of left out of the picture. You know, we learn a lot
about birds and mammals. But it’s also important to understand those
parts of the food web, because we’re really looking
to manage ecosystems as a whole, and we want to see healthy
ecosystems and, you know, native species thrive
and diversity expand. [eagle chirping] R. Edward DeWalt, PhD: This is
the Crystal River at Sleeping Bear Dunes National
Lakeshore. And I study aquatic insects. The ones I’m interested in
are stoneflies, mayflies, and caddisflies. Because these are three orders
of insects that the national parks
are interested in, because they’re indicators
of water quality. And they also indicate how well
the habitat is doing. By the way, this has great
insects in it. And I’m interested in knowing
whether or not parks protect aquatic insects
at a greater rate than, say, the surrounding area.
We’d hope so. That’s one of the objectives
of national parks. And so what I’m looking
for when I come here is habitat that’s intact. [background chatter]
Male Speaker: Look at that! Go ahead and
put him in there. R. Edward DeWalt, PhD: So I want
to go to streams that have lots of natural wood
in the bottom, lots of cobble, that flow pretty fast,
that are clear and clean. And the national park helps
provide those sorts of streams,
because they protect them. In lots of places
where I’ve worked that have had volunteers
helping me. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
set up this volunteer network who would set my traps out
at night and at night go back out and find them and bring them
back to me and then set up a day where we’d
have volunteers come in and help sort that material. The benefit for a volunteer
helping scientists conduct science is one—
they get to learn about this great natural
laboratory that we have. Most people would not have
any idea what occurs below the level of the water. They also will learn what
it takes to conduct science that’s useful. [background chatter] R. Edward DeWalt, PhD:
They might also decide that they like it. And I’ve had volunteers decide
to change their majors because of some of the work
they’ve done for me. It gives them some guidance
on what they might want to do
with their lives, doing something that’s really
useful to the scientists and the society in general. [background chatter] Female speaker:
…kind of like caterpillars. Victoria H. Brinson: When I went
to volunteer, I’m like— I’m thinking, oh,
maybe a nice office gig, not really going outside. But when they said “insects” I was like,
“Really? Insects?” And this was night collection.
It wasn’t daytime collection. So you have to go out at night in the middle of the forest
and collect insects, and I’m like, “What did I get
myself in to?!” [laughing] But I think that was like
a turning point in my life, I think, because being here and doing the citizen science
program actually opened up my eyes
to other ways that I could help out. And I really liked
the environment after that, and I’m like,
“You know what? “Let me just go into
environmental science. I think this is really what I
want to do.” Joy Marburger, PhD:
The Great Lakes Research and Education Center
facilitates research and better monitoring
in the Park Service, because the national parks
are important for enjoyment of the public,
and we have to manage them in order to protect
the resource. One of the ways you protect
the resource is to have better research done
on that resource. Then that research can be
conveyed to the public through citizen science. [background chatter] Joy Marburger, PhD: The public
actually gains a lot of knowledge from working
with the researcher directly. We combine all the various
research components. [background chatter] Joy Marburger, PhD: What the
tools are for the research, how it applies to management, and how to further better
science to try to do a better job at
managing our park resources. [upbeat music]

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