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Bird watching

Bird watching.

Citizen science projects, plants and greenhouse gases

11 December 2012

This week in the Planet Earth Podcast: how you can get involved in any one of the wealth of UK citizen science projects that have taken off recently, and why a little-known gas given off by many trees, ferns and mosses, could be contributing to global warming.

Citizen science – the involvement of volunteers in science – isn't a new phenomenon. Many projects started more than a decade ago, but they've exploded in numbers in recent years. Technology, in the form of smart phone apps, has been crucial to this development.

But how useful is citizen science? Well, a recent review suggests it's vital. It found that not only do citizen scientists contribute to the professional body of scientific research, but they also help to monitor the country's environment.

Surveying a field margin

Surveying a field margin.

And if you want to get involved, there are a whole range of projects to choose from, such as searching sound files for bat calls, looking at photographs of the sea floor to spot fish or scallops, or counting ladybirds to name just a few.

Sue Nelson meets Helen Roy from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), who runs the UK Ladybird Survey with colleagues at Anglia Ruskin University, and Michael Pocock, also from CEH, to find out more.


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The Planet Earth podcast - 'Citizen science projects, plants and greenhouse gases'.

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Later, Colin Murrell, Antonia Johnston and Myriam El Khawand from the University of East Anglia explain how isoprene – a gas released by plants and trees – has a startling effect on our atmosphere.

If there's a subject you'd like to hear about in the Planet Earth Podcast, then let us know. Email your ideas to or if you're on Facebook or Twitter, contact us there – see the links below.

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