Calling All Citizen Scientists in Arkansas!

Story by:Guest Contributor

First posted on 04-23-2007

Did you help count tarantulas in 2004? Did you look for native bumblebees in 2005 and 2006? Do you enjoy observing nature? Then you could be a citizen scientist and we need you! The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission ANHC) brought citizen-science to a state-wide audience with the Arkansas Tarantula Survey and the Arkansas Bumblebee Survey. Citizen-science is a relatively new concept that is steadily gaining recognition as a tool for conservation. Natural resource agencies with limited budgets and personnel are extending their efforts using volunteers (regardless of age, location, or experience) in gathering information about our environment.

The ANHC wants to continue to partner with amateur naturalists to establish baseline ecological measures and fill gaps in our knowledge. That’s why we are now calling upon all citizen-scientists to help us learn more about box turtles.

Historically, box turtles have been considered common in Arkansas; however, this assumption is based more on anecdotal reports than any detailed studies of box turtles populations. With their long life span (up to 70 years), slow reproductive rates, and small home ranges, box turtles have the hallmarks of a species that could be at increased risk to localized disturbances. When the population is thinned beyond a certain point, adults are unlikely to find each other for mating. This means not enough babies can be produced for the population to survive. Gathering empirical data about where box turtles occur and how frequently they are observed will help us begin to understand the status and population trends of these species.

Anyone can be a box turtle watcher! Just send us information about the box turtles you see and where you see them. We are preparing our website with upcoming information regarding our survey of Arkansas box turtles. Information will include basic facts about box turtles, threats to box turtles, and ways to help the species. A link to submitting your own sightings and observations of Arkansas box turtles will also be provided. If you’d like to be notified when the box turtle survey begins, please email us at .

While box turtles are relatively harmless, we discourage anyone from picking them up as part of this survey. The ANHC assumes no responsibility or liability for any injuries sustained by individuals participating in this survey.