Media report on app that allows citizen scientists to aid butterfly research
The Associated Press, WABI (Channel 5), WVII (Channel 7) and Engadget reported on a mobile app that citizen scientists can use to contribute to monarch butterfly migration research at the University of Maine. By visiting potential roosting sites from Maine to Georgia, users of the Monarch Model Validator app can help researchers by 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. The researchers say monarch butterflies begin a 3,000-mile migration south every fall. They also say the number of monarchs that complete the migration has fallen by 90 percent in the past two decades, AP reported. “It’s important to know where they live, what habitat they are using,” Boxler told WABI. “The monarch is an important species because it is such an iconic part of the American summer to see the orange wings coming through the sky and also because it is a pollinator, which has value to farmers and to anyone who likes to eat the things that farmers make for us.” More information about the project, including instructions on how to download the app, is online. USA Today, The Washington Times, News Center Maine, NECN, Portland Press Herald, The Times Record, Maine Public and The Eagle carried the AP report. The Maine Edge and Environmental News Network published a UMaine news release about the app.