Citizen Science

Citizen science entails recording and summarizing the observations made by amateur naturalists. Having many “eyes and ears” studying nature helps advance our understanding of species trends over time. For example, the best information available on long-term changes in bird populations comes from the Breeding Bird Survey, which is entirely based on the contribution of amateur birders. Taking part in citizen science programs is also a great way to get out and experience nature. Get involved!

A list of citizen science programs is available in the Promoting Citizen Science in Alberta report. Here are some of the most popular programs in Alberta:

Since 1976, Nature Alberta has promoted the annual May Species Count. This program includes counts of flowering plants, birds, and sometimes mammals. Summaries of the data for each year can be found in the May Species Count Archive. All of our bird data is shared with Bird Studies Canada, where it is available for download on their Nature Counts website.

By reporting when certain plants bloom and leaf out in spring, Albertans contribute vital information for climate change studies. The speed of spring plant development is controlled mainly by temperature, and there is evidence that warming winter and spring temperatures are already resulting in earlier appearances of flowers. Join us in tracking spring timing at Alberta Plantwatch!

The North American Breeding Bird Survey is designed to collect long-term data on the population status and trends of breeding birds throughout North America. The survey has been running in Alberta since 1968, when it started with four routes. Today 85 to 90 routes are visited by volunteers every year.

NatureLynx is a social media platform established by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI). Users download a phone app and use it to identify local species, learn about biodiversity hotspots, and connect with other naturalists. The initiative encourages users to network and mobilize their efforts, both socially and to contribute to the scientific understanding of Alberta’s ecosystems.

The Winter LakeKeepers program is a citizen science program run by the Alberta Lake Management Society. This program equips and enables citizen scientists to independently monitor lakes or reservoirs for parameters important to ecological health while ice fishing. Contact the Alberta Lake Management Society to learn how you can get started monitoring your favourite lake under the ice. Data from Winter LakeKeepers is stored on DataStream.

The Summer LakeKeepers program is a citizen science program run by the Alberta Lake Management Society. Summer LakeKeepers allows volunteers to independently monitor lakes or reservoirs for parameters important to ecological health. Training manuals and monitoring equipment are sent to LakeKeepers to collect monthly data from their lake or reservoir. Data from Summer LakeKeepers is stored on DataStream.

LakeWatch is a volunteer-based water quality monitoring program offered to Albertans who are interested in collecting information about their local lake or reservoir. For more than 25 years, Alberta Lake Management Society technicians have assisted volunteers to test their lakes four times during the summer, collecting important data such as water temperature, clarity, a suite of water chemistry parameters, and invasive species. Once all of the data is collected we produce a LakeWatch Report for the lake which summarizes the data in an easy-to-understand manner. LakeWatch Reports can be used to educate lake users and guide water restoration and management efforts. If you are interested in having your lake monitored as part of the LakeWatch program, please contact

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