Data Quests

Data quests are an opportunity to link your species observations to specific science and conservation needs. By collecting data on data quest species, you'll be helping researchers and managers better understand where key species exist from our city centers out to our rural regions. Each quest has been chosen to answer relevant questions or as a key indicator of an important habitat. What’s more, by joining a data quest, you'll increase your knowledge and observational skills about nature across our region.

What you can do:

Dandelion Delights

By recording (photographing) the shape and form of dandelions across our lawns and pastures, you'll help the “Dandelion Delight” quest to provide researchers with vital information on the state of local environments. These weedy wonders (i.e. dandelions!!) play a crucial role in a healthy pasture ecosystem. They're able to concentrate metals, which makes them indicators for air and soil pollution. They also play a role in soil nutrient cycling, which promotes the growth of insects and microorganisms. Studying dandelions' form, shape and distribution in relation to urban and less urban habitats will give us important information on the health of our pasture ecosystems.

Delectable Oysters

By recording the presence of oysters along our coastlines, you'll be helping us determine whether our native oyster is holding its own, or whether the exotic european oysters truly are taking over. Oysters are delicious, but they also provide ecological services to us such as improving water quality, protecting coastlines from storms, and providing food and shelter for other marine life. Due to their influential ecosystem role, these oysters are considered bioindicators. Studying their abundance and distribution in relation to urban and less urban habitats will give us important information on the health of our marine ecosystems.

Early Flyers

By locating and identifying nine species of early flying insects along the urban to rural gradient, you'll help the “Early Flyer” quest gather information about how warmer temperatures in cities influence nature’s calendar. Spring is coming sooner in the city due to the urban heat island effect. You can help us study the extent to which our neighborhoods are being influenced by higher temperatures by using our early flying butterflies, moths and bumblebees as indicators. These insects play a crucial part in our ecosystems including their role as pollinators. Many plants depend on them for reproduction.

Great Squirrel Adventure

By collecting observations of squirrels in and around our cities, you'll allow us to better understand how nature exists and thrives even in our most developed urban communities. In urban settings, squirrels are well-suited to living with humans and city structures, but they still need elements of nature to survive. They require key resources in their urban habitat, such as trees, fallen logs and/or rocks, to help provide food and protection from outdoor cats and other predators. There are several different squirrel species that are adapted to live in rural and urban settings. Observing squirrel species in different habitats can help us learn how nature can flourish in both city parks and natural forests.

Invasive Alert

Invasive species are introduced organisms that cause harm to a natural ecosystem. By recording the presence of invasive species, you'll help local managers locate their populations and facilitate management strategies. The invasive plants you'll learn about in this quest are considered bioindicators because their presence can cause issues in nutrient cycling, native species depletion, and several other environmental problems. Studying their abundance and distribution in relation to urban and less urban habitats will give us important information that managers will use to set priorities and reduce their impact on our native systems.

Spring Marvels

By recording locations for a key wetland indicator, you'll help map our seasonal wetlands - one of our most biodiverse habitats. Wetlands provide vital benefits in our landscapes, including downstream flood prevention, water purification, as well as important wildlife habitat. Yet they're one of the most impacted of our urban environments - easily lost through development for homes and recreational uses. Skunk cabbage are a good indicator of seasonally flooded habitats.

What’s in the Wrack?

As the tide recedes from the shore, the water leaves behind bits of seaweed, grasses, and small crustaceans that were floating in the water or pushed up onto the land by waves. In some places, the wrack is removed to make room for beach towels, or covered up with rocks and sand to replace what's eroded away. We'd like to know more about where wrack remains, what types of vegetation makes up the wrack line, and which creatures are using the wrack as habitat.