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Community Science

This close-up photo shows a hand holding a colorful butterfly. A bit of a net is shown as well.
(Photo: Xerces Society / Rachel Dunham)

Community science (sometimes referred to as "participatory science" or "citizen science") is a form of research that provides everyone—regardless of their background—an opportunity to contribute meaningful data to further our scientific understanding of key issues. By engaging community members, researchers can collect a larger amount of data, and often span more geographic regions, in a shorter amount of time. In turn, this data informs larger conservation efforts. It's also a great opportunity for participants to learn more about species that interest them. It's a win-win situation for all of us—including invertebrates!

Listed here are community science projects that we collaborate on, as well as other community science efforts that we recommend.

Xerces Community Science Projects

Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper

Contribute to important western monarch research and conservation efforts.

Western Monarch Count

Annual data collection effort for overwintering monarchs in California.

Bumble Bee Watch

Tracking and conserving bumble bees throughout the U.S. and Canada.

California Bumble Bee Atlas

A community-based effort to track and conserve native bumble bees⁠ in California.

Missouri Bumble Bee Atlas

A community-based effort to track and conserve native bumble bees⁠ in Missouri.

Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas

A state-wide monitoring effort to track and conserve native bumble bees⁠.

Pacific Northwest Bumble Bee Atlas

Gathering data on bumble bees throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Firefly Atlas

Track and conserve threatened and data-deficient fireflies in North America.

Other Community Science Projects

Note: The Xerces Society is not responsible for external websites or content. While we have reviewed these projects for inclusion on our website, we do not specifically endorse any of these projects, and may not have any association with their organizers.



Pollinator Community Science

  • BeeSpotter: BeeSpotter collects information on honey bees and bumble bees in the state of Illinois.
  • Budburst: Budburst brings together researchers, horticulturists, and community scientists on a shared journey to uncover the stories of plants affected by human impacts on the environment. Budburst tells these stories through data collection, data sharing, education, and personal connections.
  • Bumble Boosters: Bumble Boosters is a cooperative project of the University of Nebraska Department of Entomology, the Lincoln Public Schools Science Focus Program, and the Folsom Children’s Zoo. The goal of the project is to create a community of learners to conduct authentic research on bumble bees in Nebraska.
  • The Great Sunflower Project: The Great Sunflower Project encourages people from all over the United States to collect data on pollinators in their yards, gardens, schools and parks. With a nationwide effort since 2008, by collecting visitation rates of pollinators to all plants (but especially sunflowers!), this project is helping to establish baseline information on pollination services for the entire country and critical resources for pollinators, while also helping to identify areas of conservation concern. This website includes detailed information on pollinator identification and ecology.
  • University of Florida’s Native Buzz Community Science Campaign: Scientists at the University of Florida are working with community scientists to learn more about the nesting preferences, diversity and distribution of our native solitary bees and wasps.
  • Vermont Bumble Bee Survey: This project aims to document the relative abundance and distribution of bumblebees (Bombus), as well as the Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica), across Vermont. The survey will make essential data available to landowners, land-use planners, policy-makers, municipalities, and other individuals or organizations making conservation and management decisions.



Butterfly Monitoring

  • Journey North: This website provides information on tagging and monitoring monarch butterlies as they migrate in the eastern U.S.
  • Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.

  • Monarch Watch.
  • Southwest Monarch Study: The Southwest Monarch Study studies the migration patterns of monarch butterflies in Arizona. Their activities include tagging monarchs, monitoring milkweed populations, and searching for habitats that attract and support monarchs. People of all ages are welcome to participate. Southwest Monarch Study also provides educational programs to raise monarch awareness.
  • The Vanessa Migration Project: This website allows interested indiviuals to help monitor the migration of Painted lady butterflies.
  • North American Butterfly Monitoring Network: A network of volunteer-based monitoring programs throughout North America that collect butterfly abundance and distribution data. 



Aquatic Community Science