Citizen Science at Tumamoc: People & Habitats


A very close look at the business end of a Gila monster, one of Tumamoc's most lovable species.

A group of TBC census takers at work under the supervision of Tucson Audubon's Jennie MacFarland (who took this photo).

Male Anna's hummingbird —
Very aggressive, it has taken over the city in the past few decades. We discovered how to give the other species a chance.

The environment needs citizens who volunteer their efforts — even though they may not be professional ecologists. Such citizens are being called 'citizen scientists'.
Citizen Science comes in three flavors.
  • Education & raising of environmental awareness
  • Help with collecting data
  • Help in running conservation experiments

Tumamoc: People & Habitats has programs in all three areas.

Education & raising of environmental awareness: Always a deep part of everything we do... and has been for over a century. Our courses, our cooperation with schools, any tour we lead. Come to one (or more) of our evening talks and then pass along some of what you learn. Let us know if you have a special topic you would like us to feature.

Help with collecting data: Each spring, as Tucson's fabulous birdlife prepares its nests and raises its chicks, The Tucson Birdcount — a cooperative effort of Tumamoc and the Tucson Audubon Society — deploys its hundred volunteers to document which species is breeding in what parts of our city. TBC workers fan out over a thousand census routes from the northern edge of Pima County to Sahuarita, and from the eastern part of Saguaro National Park to its western division. They train to count carefully and according to a strict scientific protocol. That's why they end up with — not just a good time playing bird golf — but the very finest database of urban/suburban birds in the entire world.
And citizen scientists have collected data about flowering times on the Hill, too. Expect a growing list of opportunities in which citizen scientists will be able to participate.

Help in running conservation experiments: Tumamoc leads the world. Most Citizen Science programs have settled for consciousness raising; a few have dared to ask for good, hard data to analyze. But Tumamoc realized that solving today's research problems actually requires a veritable army of citizen scientists to conduct the experiments.
It began with The Tucson Hummingbird Project (2005-2007). Three dozen families set up varied experimental conditions in their own backyards and collected data on the behavior of our four hummingbird species. They helped to answer a basic science question: how does all the fighting that goes on between male hummingbirds help to regulate the number of hummingbird species in small areas. They also learned how Tucsonans can set out hummingbird feeders to increase the kinds of hummers that use their own backyards.
We are now designing more experiments for citizen scientists. Give us a call and give us a hand. You will have fun and Tucson will benefit.
Email: Cynthia Anson.