Where’s wallaby? 45,000 citizen scientists help researchers save our species

Wildlife Spotter is the online citizen science project for National Science Week 2016, undertaken by ABC Science in conjunction with the Australian Museum and six different wildlife research projects. Supported by funding through the Citizen Science package, it’s giving Australian from all walks of life an insight into the research process.

WWF bettong researcher Jess Koleck (Photo: Stephanie Todd / JCU)

WWF bettong researcher Jess Koleck (Photo: Stephanie Todd / JCU)

Australia is a vast country. Researchers have set up automatic cameras that are snapping wildlife day and night. They need help to analyse the millions of photographs they’ve captured in tropical rainforests, the dry rangelands, and around our cities.

In August 2016, more than 45,000 citizen scientists provided a helping hand, identifying 1.7 million animals in 1.3 million images.

From superb lyrebirds to common wombats, from bettongs to bandicoots, from brush turkeys to Tassie devils, and even feral cats and foxes—scientists want to know which species are roaming both in the wild and in urban areas. The observation made by participants will help answer questions including: how many endangered bettongs are left; how well native predators like quolls and devils are competing with cats for food; and how common are common wombats.

“I’m so thrilled with how Wildlife Spotter is working.  Aside from the obvious benefit of having hundreds of thousands of camera trap images identified, it makes me so happy that people from all over Australia are seeing images of and learning about relatively unknown and threatened native mammals,” says Jess Koleck, coordinator of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia’s northern bettong monitoring project, one of six project that have submitted images to Wildlife Spotter.

“Northern bettongs are such an integral part of their ecosystem, but the plight of these endangered animals is largely unknown to the Australia public.  Wildlife Spotter has been a fantastic way to get the broader community involved in what we are doing, helping them get to know this adorable species and hopefully playing a role in its recovery.”

Wildlife Spotter is an initiative of ABC Science in conjunction with the Australian Museum, Deakin University, Charles Darwin University, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Tasmanian Land Conservancy, and WWF Australia. It is supported by funding from the Australian Government Inspiring Australia strategy.

For more information, visit www.wildlifespotter.net.au

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