Here’s to the Orchid Observers

Orchid Observers is a collaboration between the museum and Zooniverse, the citizen science platform established at the University of Oxford. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Orchid Observers is a collaboration between the museum and Zooniverse, the citizen science platform established at the University of Oxford. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

A citizen science project to study when and where orchids bloom around the UK has already revealed 200 new flowering locations for particular species. Members of the public are submitting and identifying orchid photos, and also annotating historical specimens. Called Orchid Observers, the initiative aims to measure the effect of warming, and other environmental changes, on the distribution of 29 different orchids. Orchid Observers is a collaboration between the museum and Zooniverse, the citizen science platform established at the University of Oxford. The data it yields will not only be used by researchers at the museum, but will feed into the biological records data held by the BSBI.

Studying the timing of seasonal events like flowers blooming or frogs spawning – a field called phenology – offers insights into how the living world is affected by environmental change. It also helps scientists try to predict the results of continued change. The project will eventually compare the data from this year’s field work with the historical orchid records from the Natural History Museum’s herbarium. Verifying and annotating those records is another task volunteers can help with on the Orchid Observers website.

The season for the project’s fieldwork is past its halfway point, but there is much more data still to collect. About one-third of the 29 orchid species on the list are yet to flower at all.

BBC brings you more details here.

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