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Be a Science Superhero!

Have you heard of Mary Anning? Although she had little formal education, she became a pioneering fossil hunter whose amazing dinosaur fossil finds helped develop the field of paleontology and build evidence that species can become extinct. You can contribute to science for the planet too! Read on to find out how.

Like Mary Anning, people who are not professional scientists can contribute to scientific research in a meaningful way. By participating in citizen science projects, you can join science superheroes around the world in helping scientists explore and understand nature and our planet and build a greener future. In this edition of Nature Nuggets, we’ve put together a basic Q&A on how you can be a citizen scientist and participate in people-powered research for a greener planet.

Who can be a citizen scientist? The answer is—anyone! All you need are a curious mind, sharp observation skills, and enthusiasm. And you won’t be working alone—you could be a part of a community of citizen scientists, all collecting valuable data under the guidance of the experts running the project.

What will I do? Science superheroes like you, based around the world, can help researchers collect large amounts of data from different locations. Some tasks could be as simple as photographing plants and animals in your neighbourhood and uploading your observations. Other tasks may require basic training or following guidelines that ensure the data you collect is accurate and relevant.

What’s in it for me: There’s a lot you could gain! As a citizen scientist, you could explore and learn more about your environment, develop important skills such as analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. Most importantly, you’ll be an active citizen, working towards a greener future.

How can I get started as a citizen scientist? Choose a citizen science project that matches your interests and abilities. You could send in species observations to online platforms such as India Biodiversity Portal and iNaturalist or choose a project listed on CitSci India. WWF-India’s annual Dragonfly Festival, held every August-February, is a great way to learn about dragonflies and damselflies and help track their populations.

Coming up on 17-20 February 2023 is the Great Backyard Bird Count. Sign up to explore the amazing bird biodiversity around you! To learn some useful birdwatching tips ahead of the event, check out this helpful course on One Planet Academy.

Common Name: Greater racket-tailed drongo

Scientific Name: Dicrurus paradiseus

You might spot this black bird, with long racket-like streamers on its tail, during a backyard bird count. This drongo is infamous for a trick it uses when foraging for food. It can mimic sounds and alarm calls of other species to trick birds and animals out of food! Fun fact—this bird can even mimic metallic jingling sounds!

There are many other species of drongo found in India and around the world. Watch how a drongo in Africa tricks meerkats for food.

Time to check your Nature Quotient!


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