Here is a link to our project: Catalog of Life @ the Library! Public participation in science is a great way to crowd-source research and accomplish more than ever before. When non-professionals engage in science by asking questions, collecting data, or interpreting results, they can make significant contributions to understanding the life in their own backyards. It is a win-win for both scientific research and education. Technology such as smart phones and web-based applications have given amateurs powerful tools that make participation in science fun and easy.
San Diego County is an internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot. Due to our geography and Mediterranean climate, we have a range of specialized habitats ranging from coast to mountain and desert. A variety of rare, threatened and endangered species reside here, and some are endemic so they don’t occur anywhere else on Earth. New discoveries are still being made here. We have a responsibility to document and conserve our unique biodiversity for future generations.
Identifying species in such a diverse region is a daunting task unless you are an expert. But what if Nature came with a barcode to help us inventory what we have? It does, and DNA is Nature's barcode. Barcoding rapidly identifies species using short, standard genetic markers in an organism's DNA. With recent advances in technology, even non-specialists (students, citizen scientists) can help obtain barcodes from tiny amounts of tissue (even from archived museum specimens). The data is being shared world-wide in an online, freely available sequence database known as BOLD.