Citizen science

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s hedgehog citizen science campaign begins today. They are asking volunteer citizen scientists to record and report hedgehog sightings and to monitor their behaviour and activity.

The principal behind citizen science is to use volunteer research to explore or collect large sets of data that researchers or organisations simply couldn’t manage by themselves. For instance Butterfly Conservation‘s monitoring of and research into the decline of Britain’s butterflies is based on data collected by more than a quarter of a million citizen scientists since 2002.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust will use the data it collects from citizen scientist about the distribution and behaviour of hedgehogs to target its scarce resources where they will be most effective. In the past 70 years, we have lost more than 95% of our hedgehogs; your data may help to turn this desperate situation around.

Here in the UK we have a very long and sometimes rather eccentric tradition of recording wildlife. For instance, since 1850, the Royal Meteorological Society has kept records of the first arrival of swallows in the spring, data provided by enthusiastic and knowledgeable amateur naturalists that is now a valuable resource for today’s climate scientists. Kew Gardens has been recording botanical data since 1793; at first the findings of globe trotting gentleman naturalists but now a collection of world-wide importance.

Take part as a citizen scientist and you could very well contribute to a breakthrough in our understanding of a species and its relationship to its changing environment. If hedgehogs don’t appeal to you, here is a selection of current citizen scientist surveys of some of the park’s other inhabitants.

Big Butterfly Count
British Dragonfly Society’s monitoring scheme
National Bat Monitoring Programme
Amphibian and reptile conservation

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