Citizen scientists can play an important role in research at the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center. Becoming a citizen scientist is a great way to learn more about ecology and invasive species, get outdoors in your community, and make helpful contributions to important invasive species research.
Read on for opportunities.
Become a Worm Ranger!
Jumping worms are a group of invasive earthworms known for their leaping, snake-like movement that are relatively new to Minnesota. They live and feed in the upper leaf litter layer of soil, often triggering erosion and threatening plant growth.
Worm Rangers can participate from anywhere in the state, but are particularly needed in the Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud, and Twin Cities metro areas. Participants will explore and observe their own gardens to learn how jumping worms are spreading in our region and how they might best be controlled.
There is a self-guided online training, and participants can attend a live 30-minute introduction to jumping worm biology, impacts, identification, how to participate, and Q&A on Tuesdays. Find registration details and more information.
Data from citizen scientists will help researchers create a Best Management Practice guide for jumping worm infestations in Minnesota.
Help Cover it Up!
Minnesotans spend millions each year removing buckthorn. Yet the invasive shrub often returns to the same spots again and again. This vicious cycle happens because buckthorn is better at filling empty spaces in an ecosystem than most other native plants.
MITPPC researchers are developing strategies that will improve and diversify the native plant community while keeping buckthorn away for good. They already established that dense revegetation through native shrubs can reduce buckthorn recolonization by blocking at least 96% of incoming light. Now, they are expanding the study into greater Minnesota and exploring how managers throughout the state can suppress buckthorn for the longest time and at the lowest cost.
Citizen scientists work throughout the state to help carry out experiments in woodland areas in the Cover It Up project. Participants include landowners with buckthorn on their property, public or private land managers, non-profit groups, schools, community or friend groups, faith groups, and many others.
Pesky Plant Tracker (retired)
The Pesky Plant Trackers program is now retired. Volunteers collected valuable information on invasive wild parsnip and Japanese knotweed by observing seasonal changes in leaves, flowers, and fruits. This data informed MITPPC research on matching biology to treatment in order to improve management outcomes.