Pikas in the Pacific Northwest, kiss your privacy goodbye. This spring, Gregg Treinish, wildlife biologist, founder, and director of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), recruited 22 hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail from Campo, California, to Manning Park, British Columbia, to spy on the small, furry mammals. The hikers are recording pika sightings, straw nests, and even urine stains as part of a pilot project to track the impacts of climate change on the creatures.
Recruiting passersby for research is a time-honored tradition: Psychologists designing an experiment often grab stray students for a quick, cheap pilot study before shooting for the big bucks. Treinish wants to apply the same principle to ecological studies: the nonprofit ASC, founded in November 2010, seeks to connect scientists with far-ranging adventurers for “model expeditions that could be repeated on a widespread scale,” he says. Researchers are already using his matchmaking to recruit intrepid explorers to catalog the presence of ice worms in glaciers or record grizzly movements near Yellowstone National Park. “There’s no project too big or too small,” Treinish says.
Elisabeth Holland, a biogeochemist and lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, is on the ASC advisory board. Treinish has also recruited professional adventurers ranging from ocean rower Roz Savage to high-altitude mountaineer Conrad Anker as ASC advisers. Interested adventurers and scientists can register on his Web site: http://adventureandscience.org.
See also: My longer blog post for Science Careers about the same project.