Observing Species Phenology Through Citizen Science

Student: Holly Latteman
Mentors: Emily Kuzmick (Ohio Department of Natural Resources/Ohio Division of Wildlife) and Frank Lopez (Ohio Department of Natural Resources/Ohio Division of Wildlife)

Citizen Science is the incorporation of the public, with proper training, in ongoing or beginning research questions. I worked with Bald Eagle nesting data to form predictions as to the cause of recent nest failure. I created the Avian Monitoring Program at Old Woman Creek National Estuary Research Reserve/Ohio Division of Wildlife, in order to better understand the species present as well as how species are affected by climate.

Citizen Science programs are created with the idea of achieving public support for growing and monitoring initiatives of various native species. The species or area of study is usually of particular concern or interest. Initiatives are used as a teaching tool for the public and help to encourage the use of nature preservation systems. My research was performed through the Ohio Division of Wildlife/National Estuary Research Reserve System of Old Woman Creek in Huron, Ohio. The research aimed to address the importance of the reserve to the species that inhabit it, while also addressing concerns and issues seen in previous years. For the first part of my research, I analyzed Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nesting data and developed hypotheses about the recent abandonment of nests in previous years. Several hypotheses regarding the reasoning behind abandoned nests were made based on behavioral changes in the parents. For the second part of my research, I created a method of monitoring avian species in the reserve. The reserve is located on Lake Erie and is a major stopover point for migrating avian species. This is an ongoing project with interspecies comparisons of phenological, spatial, and temporal data. The data collected thus far have revealed intriguing findings as to the amount of species present, temperature dependency, and habitat overlap at the reserve. This research also aims to analyze the importance of the reserve for spring and fall migration routes of avian species.