The harutori project aims to involve undergraduate students in research using a citizen science approach. Here, I will outline the project aims and provide some outlines for the approach, the methods used, and some details on the target species.
1. Project Aims: This project has two main aims which I will briefly outline below. First, this project aims to increase the understanding of undergraduate students in what is involved in conducting research and involving them in research. This is important because involving students in research is a demonstrable way of increasing student understanding of the research process and may lead to increased retention of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students into graduate school.
Second, the project aims to build a dataset of bird abundance and diversity initially in Kyoto. However, over the longer term, there we have the aim of incorporating new areas and participation of other universities. This is important because we are in the midst of unprecedented recent habitat and climate changes. These changes over time may influence the abundance and diversity of bird species in different areas. Surprisingly, there are relatively few programs that aim to collect long term data on the changes to bird abundance in urban areas. Therefore, we will build a long-term dataset by counting birds throughout Japan over a decadal time span. This will enable us to build a picture of the changes in bird populations in urban areas in response to these many environmental changes that are occurring both locally and globally.
2. Research Approach and Methods:We will use five-minute point counts from selected sites which are generally green-spaces. While these spaces are not truly urban, they are normally heavily influenced by the surrounding urban areas. Point counting is a method that requires an observer to stand at a point and count all the birds that are seen and heard within a radius of 50 m for a period of 5 minutes. This allows us to estimate the species that are present at the site. Although there are problems inherent in this method, it is a good way to quickly assess the abundance and diversity of birds at a site. For a fuller account of the method, see Bibby et al. (2000) for details.
3. Target Species: Although we aim to count all species that we will see at our study plots, we have selected 11 species that we will concentrate on for our long-term trends which we outline below. We have selected these species for a number of reasons including their widespread distribution throughout Japan, abundance, ease of identification, and the different ecological niches they may occupy.
- Long tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) エナガ
- Great tit (Parus minor) シジュウカラ
- Bush warbler (Cittia diphone) ウグエス
- White eye (Zosterops japonicus) メジロ
- Brown-eared bulbul (Microscelis amaurotis) ヒヨドリ
- Jungle crow (Corvis macrorynchos) ハシブトガラス
- Carrion crow (Corvis carone) ハシボソガラス
- Tree sparrow (Passer montanus) スズメ
- Narcissus flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina) キビタキ
- Varied tit (Sittiparus varius) ヤマガラ
- Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopus kizuki) コゲラ
For further details of the project or if you would like to join the project, please contact me by email.
Bibby CJ, Burgess ND, Hill DA, Mustoe SH (2000) Bird Census Techniques (2nd Edition). Academic Press. London, UK.