A Citizen Science Program for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies
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The purpose of this Masters Project is to implement an intertidal monitoring program that emphasizes Citizen Science for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies (CACS). CACS is a small non-profit organization based out of Homer, Alaska. The organization conducts tidepool tours to the public in a section of Kachemak Bay known as China Poot Bay. With the ecological importance of the intertidal zone and the environmental changes that have occurred in Kachemak Bay, it is important to study the abundance of intertidal organisms and how this abundance changes over time. A list of species to be monitored in China Poot Bay was selected based on one or more of the following: 1) how easy they are to identify, 2) their importance to the intertidal community, 3) their sensitivity to disturbances, 4) if they represent a trophic level, and 5) if they are harvested species. A 30 meter transect was set up perpendicular to the beach at China Poot Bay and was divided into three equal sections all measuring 10 meters. The selected species were counted in each of the three sections using 0.5 x 0.5 meter quadrats. Sessile organisms (such as mussels and barnacles) were counted using percentages of the quadrat, while mobile organisms (such as sea stars and crabs) were counted by actual counts. The numbers were then recorded on a data sheet. The testing of the monitoring program occurred from June to August of 2008. While the data was preliminary there were several recommendations made on creating a successful implementation of the program. These included: 1) setting up a transect that encompasses the entire vertical length of the beach, 2) only conducting one quadrat measurements per section of transect, 3) setting up multiple transects to be used in data collection, 4) allowing the Citizen Scientists to explore the tidepools before conducting the formal research, 5) discussing with the Citizen Scientists why the data is being collected and why it is important, and 6) creating a webpage on the CACS website to display the data collected by the volunteers. This program is being established with the hope that it will both provide long-term data that can be used to track changes in the intertidal zone in China Poot Bay and introduce people of all ages to the diverse organisms that live there.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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