Among the many ways that individuals can directly help monarchs and other pollinators, like creating native habitat, participating in community science initiatives is one of the most important. Professionals and researchers rely on the help of community scientists to help collect data. By volunteering your time or volunteering as a group, you can contribute directly to monarch and pollinator conservation!
Community science is also known as citizen science or volunteer monitoring. It is scientific research that is conducted by nonprofessional scientists, interested volunteers, students, and educators (aka people just like you!). You don’t need to have a scientific background to be involved; you just need to help collect data!
The Arkansas Monarch Mapping Project (opens new window) is a project on iNaturalist (opens new window). You can download the free app and create an account. After creating an account, search for the “Arkansas Monarch Mapping Project” and join it. **When you observe a monarch egg, caterpillar, or butterfly, just add it to the project and answer the questions. It is as simple as taking a picture and something that Arkansans of all ages can participate in!
Data collected from this project, help inform habitat management decisions and allow us to better understand how monarchs migrate and breed across Arkansas.
You can also join the “Bees and Apoid Wasps of Arkansas” (opens new window) and “Apoidea of Arkansas: Native Bees” (opens new window) on iNaturalist. All you need to do is take photos of native bees that you observe while exploring the Natural State!
The Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program (IMMP) (opens new window) is a national program to collect milkweed, nectar plant, and monarch use data from a variety of land-use types and regions. This information is vital to shaping our understanding of how monarchs interact with their environment, documenting conservation efforts, and tracking the population and its habitat as they change over time.
You or a group of volunteers can adopt a monitoring site to help contribute data to this national program. Particularly in Arkansas, we are interested in community science volunteers collecting habitat data using the Milkweed and Blooming Plant Survey (opens new window) [or Activity 1 Datasheet (Level A)].
Volunteers can become fully trained by using the resources on the Monarch Joint Venture IMMP website (opens new window). If you’re interested, you can learn more on their website or email us.
Similar to the Arkansas Monarch Mapping Project, Journey North (opens new window) is a place where community scientists report their sightings of monarchs in different life stages. You can also view different migration maps on their website (opens new window) and watch the migration unfold! Adults and children alike can enjoy seeing the journey of the monarch butterfly take place.
To determine monarch migration routes, and weather influence and survival during the fall migration, Monarch Watch launched a tagging program to mark individual monarchs with a unique identification. The tagging program has produced a dataset with records of over one million tagged butterflies and more than 16,000 recoveries.
Project Monarch Health (opens new window) is a collaborative study between citizen scientists and the University of Georgia to better understand Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, a microscopic protozoan parasite of monarchs more commonly known as OE. Volunteers can obtain testing kits and learn how to properly handle and test monarchs for OE spores. See their website for more details.
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