Be a Citizen Scientist

Being a Citizen Scientist with PFK means that everyday people, just like you, can help protect and enhance our local native plants and animals using proven, scientific methods. You don't need to be an expert. Just some time and enthusiasm. Read on to find out more.

Citizen Science Month

To better protect our beloved native flora and fauna, we need to understand its current state and how it changes over time. We do this by monitoring different elements of biodiversity.

Citizen Science Month is a special time where volunteers in the Kaipātiki area help us collect data to understand our impact on the natural environment. You don't need to have a PhD to be involved, just an inquisitive brain and/or lots of energy! Participants in PFK’s Citizen Science Month can learn simple ways that they and their families can contribute towards science and environmental protection across the Kaipātiki Local Board area.

 

When Do Activities Happen?

Our ecological monitoring campaign runs 24/7 all year. The PFK Bio-Blitz events run in mid-late spring and early-mid summer. We will also be holding a mid-winter Bio-Blitz event. The PFK Chew Card campaign starts in July every year.

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For details on the 2022 Citizen Science activities, please contact us.​

Counting Pests with the Chew Card Campaign

What on earth is a chew card?! It’s a card that is covered with a non-toxic paste (like coloured peanut butter) that is then placed in our nature reserves. Over time these cards are bitten or chewed by rats, mice, possums, hedgehogs, stoats and even other creatures like dogs and cats as they are attracted to the paste. The bites in the chew cards leave behind distinctive marks that we can identify - and then counting the number of cards bitten by the different animals gives us an idea of how many there are.

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The PFK Chew Card Campaign is our annual survey which places these chew cards along survey lines in over 43 reserves in Kaipātiki. The results from the campaign allow an in-depth look at where pest control is needed the most, or where a variety of traps is needed. We can also see how amazingly well our reserves are doing. Pest Free Kaipātiki has run the Citizen Science chew card campaign in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, and we are gradually getting fewer and fewer red dots on our results maps, meaning fewer rats across Kaipātiki!

If you would like to learn more about this year's chew card campaign, please click here.

Ecological Monitoring

The Ecological Monitoring project asks the community to get involved in recording what they see and hear in the local natural environment. Previously we divided monitoring into different kinds of animals, such as aquatic, reptiles, invertebrates, birds, and plants. Now, ALL forms of life are captured under one project using a new programme - iNaturalist.

The Ecological Monitoring project began in May 2021 and will continue indefinitely. The project continues year-round to allow certain flora and fauna that are only present at certain times of the year to be found and photographed. This is especially relevant to invertebrates who are in their largest numbers during spring/summer. We also want to be able to compare the results from different years.

How Can I Be Involved?

Record any living species you find using iNaturalist - it’s quick, easy and fun! You can record absolutely anything as long as it's alive (or once was)! Plants, birds, insects, spiders, fish, fungi, lichen, and more. The life you find can be the whole organism or just part of it - alive or dead. It may be photographed or you may only be able to record the sounds it makes.

Where Should I Look?

Look in your backyard, your local reserve, while walking along a road, your place of work or study, anywhere you can find living things. Aim to record wild things (not a pet or a plant from a garden centre). The best places will be more natural places, or places with vegetation, such as your backyard, an area of bush, or a reserve - but always stay on tracks in reserves, and stay away from Kauri trees. Look around you, look under things, look behind things. Particular insects, spiders and other invertebrates could be found almost anywhere, as can many plants.

 

How Can I Be Part of the Wider Ecological Monitoring?

If you want to get involved with the Ecological Monitoring campaign, simply follow the Pest Free Kaipatiki - Ecological Monitoring iNaturalist project. From there, any life you take a picture of will be uploaded to our project and can be included in our monitoring data. 

​What is iNaturalist?

iNaturalist is a website and app that anyone can use to record observations of living things. With the app, you can snap a photo of something, upload it, ask the very clever auto-recognition feature to suggest what it is, then select what you think it may be. The observation is added and people around the world will see your photo and confirm or suggest the identification. Once three people back up the observation, it’s loaded into the system for the sake of science! 

It is a great way to learn about the living things around us and learn how to recognise them. All observations you photograph will stay linked to your profile, so you can always look back on what you’ve found. 

 

For a guide to iNaturalist, please click here.