National Parks around the country are creating BioBlitz events—opportunities for citizens to participate in science. One that is a standout is the study being done at the Devil’s Tower National Monument, according to SDBP Radio. A team from the University of Wyoming has been attaching radio transmitters to the quills of the porcupines that make their home there. On April 30th, they will be assembling a citizen science group to help track the critters and their habits. Doug Keinath is the lead researcher for the program and is quite excited.
As soon as you start studying these guys more closely, you realize they’re really benign animals. I mean, I just find them fascinating. They’re just incredible, adorable little animals.
The prickly rodents like to feed on the inner bark of Ponderosa trees, which seems like a rather specific diet, and they hang out in dens. I’m sure it will be interesting to follow their GPS trails during the day to see how habitual they are and how their behaviors change through the season. All secrets of their inner lives will be revealed as participants will learn how to use the same technology as the researchers to track the porcupines. According to Nancy Stimson of Devil’s Tower, this data is the beginning.
This two-year study is the first focusing on the porcupine population and their winter habitat at Devils Tower. From this research, Stimson says the park plans to learn how to protect porcupine habitats in all seasons.
Here’s some tantalizing footage of “Petunia”, one of the six residents hanging around the tower. Keep your volume up for maximum quillage.
So, whether you are a porcupine lover in Wyoming, or another citizen scientist looking for an opportunity in your state, be sure to check out the National Park Service BioBlitz listing. There are some amazing projects where your skills are actually needed and many don’t even require experience. Also, if you are intrigued by radio transmitters or communicating with things in the physical world, you should check out this Making Things Talk Book that’s filled with projects. Not only is it fun for scientists, but teachers and artists will also get a kick out of exploring thermostats, game controllers, and connected plush monkeys. And you thought Doctor Doolittle was the only one that could talk to animals!