What is citizen science?

Citizen science generally involves groups of people or amateur scientists helping gather data for use in nature or wildlife studies to support conservation.

With the public recording sightings of everything from butterflies and bees to frogs and toads, wildlife charities have access to a wealth of data they can use to map, track and better understand how to protect our wildlife and natural environments.

Whether you give your time online, sign up for a practical project with a wildlife or nature charity close to home, or combine volunteering with the chance to travel and experience wildlife overseas, your generosity and kindness will not only help nature, it’ll do you the world of good too.

Citizen science projects that need your help

Zooniverse App, free (iOS/Android)

Select a discipline (science, nature, medicine and more), then choose from a range of online research projects, including orangutan nest watch, specimen mapping and tagging penguins. zooniverse.org

iRecord App, free (iOS/Android)

Contribute to conservation and scientific research by photographing and recording nature and wildlife as part of a project to record all of the UK’s species. There are some iRecord apps for specific groups, providing more detailed information about the species and how to identify them, including butterflies, grasshoppers and crickets, and ladybirds. apps.apple.com/gb/app/irecord-app

iNaturalist App, free (iOS/Android)

Photograph plants, wildlife and other living organisms then upload your observations and add them to a global database of biodiversity supporting research projects at a local and global level. apps.apple.com/gb/app/inaturalist

Dragon Finder App, free (iOS/Android)

Identify and report sightings of reptiles and amphibians across the UK to assist wildlife charity Froglife using their free app. froglife.org/dragonfinder/app

Giving Nature a Home App, free (iOS/Android)

The RSPB app encourages users to create a wildlife haven on their doorstep – whether that’s a garden, balcony or window ledge. Enter your preferences and the app will suggest tailored activities to suit your space, spare time and the season – then learn about the nature you are helping. apps.apple.com/gb/app/giving-nature-a-home

eBird, free (iOS/Android)

Report real-time bird sightings and observations and contribute to a global online checklist created by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with projects in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia and Europe. ebird.org

Big Butterfly Count App, free (iOS/Android)

Take part in the UK’s annual butterfly census in July and August, aimed at assessing the health of our environment and assisting in butterfly conservation. apps.apple.com/gb/app/big-butterfly-count

Main image: Students pond dipping at Epping Forest Education centre. © Photofusion/Universal Images Group/Getty