Photo credit: Jalb, Flickr Creative Commons

Oh man, you’re thinking, WHAT are those wacky Your Wild Life folks up to NOW? (Sometimes, when we have a sec to pause and catch our breaths, we find ourselves asking that very same question.)

Last week, you read about our first published findings from the Belly Button Biodiversity project. We reported that the 60 belly buttons we studied were a veritable jungle of microbial biodiversity. In those navels we found more than 2300 species; eight of those species – we called them oligarchs – were quite frequent and abundant, present in more than 70% of the individuals we sampled. Moreover, these frequent and abundant oligarchs were predictably so.

And yet, as Rob explained, while it’s interesting that we can predict which species of bacteria are frequent and/or abundant in belly buttons in general, we haven’t been able to account for which species are present in any particular belly button.

And that, my friends, is why we want your help!

We’re trying a grand experiment – As you might well know, citizen scientists largely get involved in the data collection phase of scientific research. We’re gonna shake things up a bit: we want, rather we need, your creative and analytical minds to help us. We’re convinced that collectively, you are so much smarter than us. So today, we’re opening up the belly button data for public analysis.

I’ll kick it over to Rob to explain the details.