NEWCOMB — If you’ve got a knack for the natural world and delight in stomping through bogs during mud season, then local scientists have a job for you:
How does citizen scientist sound?
Scientists at Paul Smith’s College and the Adirondack Interpretive Center need your input as part of their wetland monitoring program, the central goal of which is to gather phenology data — or intel on the timing in biological events — for wetlands throughout the park.
“Wetlands really are the cradles throughout the region,” said John Sheehan, a representative of the Adirondack Council, a wilderness advocacy group.
Sheehan said wetlands are a nursery for wildlife because they are primary points for creatures to obtain water; they’re a breeding habitat and important for flood control because they absorb runoff from storms.
“Large wetlands are also really excellent bird habitats,” said Sheehan. “The number of species that can live in a wetland expands exponentially past 50 acres. The Adirondacks hosts a wide variety of wildlife species that don’t have homes anywhere else.”
About 260 species call the park their home, 170 of which breed here.
Center for Adirondack Biodiversity Director David Patrick, one of the scientists who is spearheading the project from the brain trust at Paul Smith’s College, said it’s important to keep track of changes in wetlands over space and time.
Subtle changes in phenology are signs that wetlands may be threatened by climate change in the future, he said.
There are not enough scientists to monitor these small, almost imperceptible changes, which is why they need to equip a team of citizen scientists who have intimate knowledge of the surroundings of where they live and work.
“This is a great opportunity to work together and figure out if we should be worried,” he said.
One sign that something is amiss in the natural world is when biological changes occur at different times during the year.