Citizen Scientist offered opportunities for research

Researchers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park are inviting people to volunteer as Citizen Scientists on Saturday, May 15, and join park biologists and educators in collecting scientific data on bumblebees in the national park.

During this scheduled field activity, volunteers will discover and identify bumblebees from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Smoky Mountains are home to many native species of bumblebees, some of which are at risk of extinction due to introduced non-native diseases and other causes. In the last few years, scientists suspect at least one native species has disappeared and another species seems to be taking its place. Data about which bumblebees are pollinating which plants, as well as their locations and numbers, will help scientists monitor changes in vital pollinator populations over time.

Other Citizen Science Days and Ash Tree Mapping Days through the summer and fall are listed on the park’s webpage at www.nps.gov.

Volunteers should be prepared to hike up to 3 miles through Cades Cove fields. For the bumblebee event you must wear long pants and closed-toe shoes or boots. The group will encounter tall grass, thorns, chiggers, and, of course, bumblebees. Organizers hope to minimize the risk of being stung during collection, those who are allergic to bees need to bring their own medical kits. Please bring snacks, water, sunscreen, insect repellent and rain gear. Reservations are necessary and participation is limited to 16 people (children 12 and under must bring an adult). Contact Ranger Susan Simpson at 865-436-1200, ext. 762 to R.S.V.P. and for meeting location.

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