“We’ve got about a hundred temperature and humidity data-loggers, figure out how they work and get them into people’s homes.”
And so began my first official challenge upon joining the Dunn Lab and the Your Wild Life team in January. Before moving to North Carolina I had never so much as seen an iButton (the tech-y name of the aforementioned data-loggers), let alone knew how to program them, find participants, send them out… it was an adventure, but a great one! After a week of research I had my first programmed iButton in hand and had even run a series of field tests on my balcony to figure out the best configuration for the iButton so that it would give us the most reliable data.
Fast forward one month’s time and we’ve successfully reached out to 50 super citizen scientists (one in each state including Washington DC – NOTE: We’re still looking for a citizen scientist in Delaware!) in order to send our first round of data-loggers. One data-logger goes inside, and the other outside. Our plan is to figure out exactly what type of environment we maintain inside our homes relative to the one outside our homes.
Do you live in a Tundra but keep your living room like a Desert?
The data-loggers are pretty slick — about the size of a watch battery, they are very sophisticated little pieces of technology! They can be pre-programmed to measure data at a certain time interval AND they can even be set up on a delay-start up to 31 years (!). It’s been a lot of fun brainstorming the best way to have them collect data (we settled on once an hour) and for how long (3 months, then participants mail them back, we download data, reprogram, and then mail them back to participants for 3 more months of data-logging). Our participants have enthusiastically sent and tweeted us pictures of where our little hard-working loggers will be spending the next 6 months! Sally, our super citizen scientist in Washington State, tweeted this picture (right) of her data loggers inside and outside of her home!
All of the citizen scientists participating in this project have participated in one or more other Your Wild Life projects — Our intent is use this fine-scale climate data to help us better explain the patterns of biodiversity (microbes! ants! camel crickets!) we’ve observed in and around homes across all 50 states. We’re really curious about how much temperature and humidity vary inside of our homes relative to the outside. We’re interested in how this local, micro-climate data compares to the coarser scale data we can gather from satellites and regional weather stations.
Overall, it has been a blast hearing from our super citizen scientists and seeing how they have welcomed our little data-loggers into their homes! We look forward to sharing what we learn with you all in the coming months.