Citizen science investigation of red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) distribution in Newfoundland
Red squirrels and eastern chipmunks are both non-native species on the island of Newfoundland. There is evidence that red squirrels have contributed significantly to changes in the ecology of several native plants and animals in Newfoundland, and there is little known about the impact of eastern chipmunks. The full distribution on insular Newfoundland and the nearshore islands has not been fully described for either species. As part of her Environmental Science (Biology) honours thesis, Grenfell Campus student Heather Spicer organized and managed a citizen science project designed to help us learn more about red squirrels and eastern chipmunks in Newfoundland. The project was implemented in partnership with Let's Talk Science, a national organization with a mandate to conduct science outreach. More than 900 elementary school students and their teachers from around Newfoundland collected and submitted data on red squirrel and eastern chipmunk activity in their area. The project was intended to be an educational opportunity for all participating students, and Heather created educational activities that linked aspects of squirrel and chipmunk biology to age-appropriate components of the provincially-mandated elementary school biology curriculum. All participating classes received kits in the mail that included educational activities, materials for data collection, and a pre-paid return envelope. Heather analyzed all submitted data and included them in her thesis, which is available here: http://research.library.mun.ca/12704/.