Citizen Science Project Helps To Shed Light on Fireflies
Michael P. O'Connor
LINCOLN, MA—Who isn’t delighted to see fireflies begin their mysterious blinking-light displays on a mid-summer night? Fans of these intriguing insects can turn their awe into positive action by joining Mass Audubon’s Firefly Watch Citizen Science Project.
Firefly Watch combines an annual summer evening ritual with crucial research. People of all ages and backgrounds can become part of a community of volunteer “citizen scientists” looking for fireflies in their backyards or nearby fields and then providing data in support of these amazing creatures and their habitats.
Project citizen scientists can play an important role in answering questions related to firefly vitality, including population changes, geographic distribution, and environmental pressures.
Mass Audubon has succeeded the Museum of Science in overseeing Firefly Watch and is continuing to partner with the laboratory of Tufts University biology professor Sara Lewis, a recognized authority on North American firefly behavior and ecology.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of this exciting citizen science project with Mass Audubon,” Professor Lewis said. “As we try to track firefly population trends around the country, we really need everyone’s help. Plus, it’s fun! Everyone loves watching—and counting—fireflies, right?”
Director of Education Kris Scopinich shared the Tufts researcher’s enthusiasm, noting, “Citizen science aligns closely with Mass Audubon’s mission to connect people with nature, so we are truly excited to be overseeing Firefly Watch and partnering with Sara Lewis and her team.
“Mass Audubon members and all those who participate from across the U.S. and Canada in this worthy project are working at the intersection of their own curiosity about fireflies, a concern for conservation, and scientific discovery,” Scopinich added. “Let’s also remember that fireflies are a great reason to explore all of the wonder of nature at night.”
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.