10 Citizen Science Projects for 2024

By Dr Chris Wacker, UNE Discovery

Scientists can’t be everything, everywhere all at once, but there is one important resource scientists can utilise that is everywhere: you! Get involved in a citizen science project in 2024 and have your observations contribute to important scientific research. Here is a list of ten Australia-wide citizen science projects that you can get involved in. All of these projects offer some training so you can be confident in the accuracy of your observations.

  1. Womsat – year round

Wombats are one of Australia’s most unique and recognisable animals, but they are under threat in many areas. The biggest threats to the wombat are mange, cars, and land clearing. Wombats are important ecosystem engineers, and their burrow systems help keep the soil healthy and provide homes for many other species. Scientists want as many observations of wombats as possible so they can create a wombat map and hopefully identify all the things that threaten the species.

https://www.womsat.org.au/womsat/pagecontent.aspx?page=wombat_aboutproject
https://www.facebook.com/WombatSurveyandAnalysisTools

2. Wildlife Spotter – year round

One widely used and very useful tool researchers use is the camera trap. These don’t really trap animals but rather take photos as the animal passes by. The problem is that a research project that uses camera traps can generate thousands upon thousands of photos, and these can be quite time-consuming to sort through. All you need is a computer with an internet connection and a bit of time and you can help identify the animals in the photos! This information will then be used for many wildlife monitoring projects across Australia and contribute to the Atlas of Living Australia.

https://volunteer.ala.org.au/wildlife-spotter
https://www.facebook.com/atlasoflivingaustralia

3. Backyard Species Discovery with Bush Blitz – year round

Bush Blitz is Australia’s largest species discovery program and data contribute to the Atlas of Living Australia. You can simply observe species in your own backyard and upload your observations to the iNaturalist page.

https://bushblitz.org.au/introducing-an-expedition-for-everyone/
https://www.facebook.com/BushBlitz

4. ClimateWatch – year round

ClimateWatch was developed by Earthwatch Australia with the Bureau of Meteorology and University of Melbourne to understand how changes in temperature and rainfall are affecting the seasonal behaviour of Australia’s plants and animals. ClimateWatch enables every Australian to be involved in collecting and recording data that will help shape our response to climate change.

https://climatewatch.org.au/
https://www.facebook.com/EarthwatchAustralia

5. CSIRO – Insect Digitisation – year round

Support bushfire science from home. The CSIRO needs citizen scientists to help transcribe specimen labels of various insects. This data will allow scientists to map the distribution and abundance of certain insect species, and determine the impact of bushfires on insect populations.

https://volunteer.ala.org.au/
https://www.facebook.com/AMDigiVol

6. Date A Fossil – year round

Another project from the Australian Museum, Date A Fossil allows citizen scientists to become palaeontologists from home and help to reveal new information about ancient ecosystems. You will identify microfossils with scanning electron microscopy images.

https://australian.museum/get-involved/citizen-science/date-a-fossil/

7. DustWatch – year round

Due to the significant impacts of dust storms, scientists need to gather as much information as possible to understand and, ultimately, stop them. Because the condition of the land is a major cause of dust storms, monitoring and understanding dust storms can influence decisions about land management. DustWatch is a national initiative to monitor dust storms across Australia. It started in 2002 it is one of Australia’s longest-running citizen-science programs.

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/land-and-soil/soil-degradation/wind-erosion/community-dustwatch

8. The Aussie Bird Count – October

The Aussie bird count is an initiative of Birdlife Australia and has been running for 10 years, with well over 3 million birds counted! This event typically runs for a week in October each year. All you have to do is observe the birds that you see within a 20-minute period. These data will help BirdLife Australia to map trends in bird communities from year to year and get a snapshot of the health of the environment.

https://aussiebirdcount.org.au/
https://www.facebook.com/BirdLifeAustralia

9. FrogID Week – November

FrogID Week is an Australian Museum initiative where you can use your smartphone to record frog calls using the free FrogID app. These data help scientists monitor the distribution of frog species and understand how frogs are coping with our changing planet.

https://www.frogid.net.au/frog-id-week
https://www.facebook.com/FrogIDaus

10. Australian Pollinator Count – November

Australian Pollinator Week acknowledges our important and unique insect pollinators. Taking part in the Australian Pollinator count is quick and easy. You only need to observe some flowers for 10 minutes, record the pollinators you see and register your observations.

https://www.australianpollinatorweek.org.au/count/
https://www.facebook.com/AustralianPollinatorWeek