Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University: Visual Archives: The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is home to a vast digital archive featuring photographs of plants and trees from around the world, along with a number of historical photographs of the arboretum itself. Collectively, these photographs “trace the evolution and management of the Arboretum’s landscape, record individual taxa in the living collections, and capture these same plants growing in their native habitats.” These images are arranged into interactive galleries for easy, enjoyable browsing. In one such gallery, the Arnold Arboretum Plant Image Database, visitors can browse Plant Images and filter their searches by Season or by Character (e.g. bark, flower, insect), allowing visitors to observe each plant in detail and see how they change throughout the year. In another interactive gallery, visitors can browse through 42 images taken in South Central China and Tibet, including close-up photographs of plants taken by botanist Joseph Rock in the 1920s. In total, the Visual Archives contains over 65,000 images.
Globe at Night: Light pollution has greatly diminished how well individuals around the world can view the night sky. For the past decade, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory has hosted Globe at Night, a citizen science project that collects global data about light pollution. The project invites participants to fill out a form that details their location, the sky conditions, and what constellations they observe. On this website, visitors can explore collected data in a variety of ways, including an Interactive Data Map and a Regional Map Generator. In 2015, Globe at Night collected data from 105 countries. Thanks to widespread citizen participation in this project, Globe at Night provides useful information for stargazers around the world. Those interested in participating can find more information here.
Monarch Butterfly Migration and Overwintering: The Monarch butterfly is the only butterfly species that migrates from the northern regions of North America during the winter months. From the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) comes this informative website and citizen science project dedicated to “the unique and amazing phenomenon” of monarch butterfly migration. Here, visitors can learn about the migration routes of monarch butterflies via maps and a link to a video from the Encyclopedia of Life. Visitors can also check out a link to an interactive map from Annenberg Media that charts the sightings of eggs, larva, and adult monarchs throughout the year. One can access this map by clicking on the Report Your Sightings link on this webpage. Here, visitors are encouraged to submit their own sightings of monarch butterflies in order to help map the route of migrations. In this way, anyone can observe monarch butterfly migration from the northern United States south to Mexico by clicking on any pin on this map, which are color coded to denote the month of the siting.
The New Food Fights: U.S. Public Divides Over Food Science (Pew Research Center): What is the definition of “organic” food? Are genetically modified (GM) foods safe to eat? What foods comprise a healthy diet? A new study from the Pew Research Center reveals that the U.S. public is divided on answers to these questions and others relating to issues in food science. In this one-hundred-page report, readers can examine the results of a 1,480-person survey that asked a variety of questions related to food safety and health. The survey reveals, for example, that a little over half – 55 percent – of Americans believe that organic produce is healthier than non-organic produce. Meanwhile, 39 percent of Americans described GM foods as “worse” for individual health than non-GM foods. What factors influence these attitudes? Interestingly, Pew found little correlation to geography or political ideology, but did find that age played a role. This report also examines the public’s perception of the overall importance of diet to health and the accuracy of food science.