For over twenty-five years, Journey North has tracked arrivals and departures of migratory species. And now, this volunteer-generated data is more accessible to researchers than ever before. In fall 2021, Journey North published two data packages with the Environmental Data Initiative (EDI).
The data packages contain observational records of monarch butterflies and hummingbirds submitted by Journey North volunteers from 1996 to 2020. Journey North program coordinator Nancy Sheehan knew the untapped value this long-term data could provide to researchers. She says, “It was like finding a treasure. With close to 600,000 records submitted by citizen scientists over twenty-five years, there was so much unrealized potential to contribute to scientific research about migration and seasonal change.”
After laying the groundwork, Sheehan worked closely with EDI fellow Luis Weber-Grullón. The published datasets include metadata describing data assurance and quality verification methods used by Journey North staff; protocols and methods followed by volunteers; and descriptions of the spatial and temporal scale of each dataset.
For Sheehan, this is just the start. Journey North hopes to prepare and publish data packages for other migratory species they track, including red-winged blackbirds, common loons, Baltimore and Bullock’s orioles, American robins, and barn swallows.
Read the full Journey North article about publishing monarch butterfly and hummingbird data packages.
—Scott Dyke, communications specialist