Abstract Detail

Education and Outreach

Clement, Wendy [1], Prudic, Kathleen [2], Oliver, Jeffrey [3].

Inquiry module using citizen science data and informatics to explore effect of climate on plant-insect interactions.

Open data repositories, including those from citizen science efforts, are rich sources of research-grade data that are becoming key to asking and answering questions in ecology. Simultaneously, informatics tools are becoming increasingly accessible to the non-specialist and are more commonly integrated into the college curriculum of biology students. We saw a timely opportunity to mentor students in applying the scientific method using citizen science data while developing data science skills. Collaboration among a plant biologist (Wendy Clement, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ)), entomologist and citizen science specialist (Kathleen Prudic, University of Arizona), and entomologist and data science specialist (Jeffrey Oliver, University of Arizona) resulted in a module that combined data science with citizen science data to explore the effects of climate change on plant-insect distributions. This module spans three, two-hour classes and guides students on how to collect, curate, and analyze citizen science data using common research computing tools: R, RStudio, Git, and GitHub. These are in silica experiments examining (1) the species distributions of butterflies and their host plants based on observations submitted to iNaturalist and (2) how those distributions may change in the future due to global climate change. Students in an upper-level course in Plant-Insect Interactions at TCNJ worked in groups of four to select a butterfly-host plant interaction native to North America. Each group downloaded and installed software, retrieved and curated citizen science data, modeled occurrence data to produce a species distribution of butterfly and host plant, and used this information to develop hypotheses on how climate change may or may not affect the future distribution of their butterfly and host plant. Finally, students tested their hypotheses using estimates of future climate variables, evaluated the strength of their results, and presented a summary of these explorations to their peers.

Related Links:
Publication of teaching module: Exploring how climate will impact plant-insect distributions and interactions using open data and informatics

1 - The College Of New Jersery, Dept. Of Biology, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing, NJ, 08628, United States
2 - University of Arizona, Entomology, PO Box 210036, Tucson, AZ, 85721, United States
3 - University of Arizona Libraries, Office of Digital Innovation & Stewardship, 1510 E. University Blvd, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA

plant-animal interactions
species distribution model
citizen science
student-centered learning
data science.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: 0003
Abstract ID:503
Candidate for Awards:None

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