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February 2014 Archives

Competition for Conservation?

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According to a recent post in the Cornell Chronicle, Janis Dickinson, professor of natural resources and director of citizen science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, believes that healthy competition among citizen science volunteers may be a good thing for conservation. She is managing the new, a project that enables participants to add details about a specific site (e.g., their yard) to Google Maps and link to bird monitoring data in Users can also commit to adopting habitat conservation actions, such as adding feeders or keeping cats away from the birds. YardMap aims to help participants learn about, actually enact, and showcase more bird friendly habitat. In the words of Dickenson, "If everybody reduced their lawn size, had a greater diversity of structure and vegetation types, had berry-producing plants, and if this were done over a larger area of land, say an entire town, this could create one large patch of relatively high-quality habitat."

Sign up or learn more at the site. This is a great service opportunity for Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteers or Driven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry through Citizen Science adult leaders. Learn more about these programs at the University of Minnesota Extension Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education website.

Oberhauser Discusses Monarch Survey in Star Tribune

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EXT_PHOTO_OBERH001.jpgFish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. Karen Oberhauser was featured in an article about recently released results of an annual survey of Monarch overwintering colonies in Mexico. The 2014 results suggest alarming decline in the population of the migratory butterflies - just 1.7 acres of overwintering colonies, down from an average trend of between 20-30 acres. Weather, climate change, and natural pests have all influenced this trend. However, Oberhauser points to habitat loss as a significant driver for this decline.

Efforts to restore and create new Monarch habitat can make a difference. Oberhauser explains in the article that restoring summer breeding habitat in Minnesota and other U.S. regions to a point where winter colonies occupy 7.5-10 acres could sustain the population.

Visit the Monarch Watch website to learn more and get supplies to create your own Monarch Waystation habitat. Visit the University of Minnesota Extension Minnesota Master Naturalist or Citizen Science websites to learn more and get involved in programs focused on natural resources conservation service.

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