When spotting a butterfly, a common reaction may be to whip out a phone and snap a photo.
When spotting a butterfly, a common reaction may be to whip out a phone and snap a photo. A team of University of Maine researchers is hoping another response could be to use the phone to log details about areas where butterflies are likely to be found.
Using a mobile app, anyone can become a citizen scientist by visiting potential monarch butterfly roosting sites from Maine to Georgia and answering questions based on their observations.
Brandon Boxler, who is pursuing a master’s degree in ecology and environmental sciences, and Cynthia Loftin, associate professor of wildlife ecology and leader of the United States Geological Survey Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, plan to use data collected from the app to validate a model that predicts the location of monarch roosting sites.
“We are trying to create a model that predicts areas that have a high suitability for monarchs for roosting during their fall migration to Mexico,” Boxler says. “Although we have developed an initial model, without ground truthing it will be hard to know the validity of the results. This application will assist us in testing and refining the model.”
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Image via University of Maine.