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Citizen Scientists Can Now Lend a Hand in Penguin Conservation

Stony Brook Professor helps develop new public-access website

Penguin

Adélie penguin nesting on the Antarctic Peninsula  Credit: Heather Lynch, Stony Brook University

STONY BROOK, N.Y., October 25, 2016 – A new interactive and user-friendly website that tracks Antarctic penguin populations and provides information for scientists to better understand environmental changes will now be accessible to the general public. The new tool, developed  by Heather J. Lynch, PhD, an Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolution, and colleagues internationally, is the first of its kind giving citizen scientists a lens into the world of scientists seeking to impact global environmental change by way of analyzing penguin living patterns, known as a strong indicator of the effects of climate change.

Dr. Lynch and Mathew R. Schwaller, PhD, at NASA Goddard, teamed up with Washington, DC-based NGO Oceanites, Inc. to develop the newly launched Mapping Application for Penguin Populations and Projected Dynamics (MAPPPD; www.penguinmap.com).  Scientists and policy makers use the website to make conservation decisions regarding the Antarctic environment.

The website also allows anyone to query all publicly available penguin census data. Any user can also access the latest modeled population estimates for Adélie penguins around the Antarctic continent, as well as the probability of presence and breeding for all other avian species on the Antarctic Peninsula.

“The launch of this website has the potential to greatly improve management and collaboration around the Antarctic,” said Dr. Lynch. “MAPPPD contains data for approximately 1,300 historical and current surveys in nearly 300 sites around the Antarctic continent. These data come primarily from published literature, though population estimates based on satellite imagery are also used by researchers and represents a growing component of MAPPPD’s utility.”

Dr. Lynch also explained that researchers and citizen scientists with data to contribute to MAPPPD have a variety of ways to do so.  Additionally, MAPPPD’s utility as a data hub for Antarctic penguin biologists will grow as new datasets are uncovered and can be integrated into population models that both describe past trends and may be used to predict future trends.

The easy-to-use interface includes a number of informative outputs that are immediately available for Environmental Impact Assessments or scientific reports. The website also contains fact sheets on the four penguin species for which count data are available, links to relevant publications, and information about how users can contribute their own data.

For MAPPPD partner and end user, Oceanites, Inc., the website is a new tool for its Antarctic inventory project. “MAPPPD will immediately assist a wide range of Antarctic stakeholders, from other researchers and governments to NGOs and the public at large,” summarized Oceanites Founder and President Ron Naveen.

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About Stony Brook University

Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. Since welcoming its first incoming class in 1957, the University has grown tremendously, now with more than 25,000 students and 2,500 faculty. Its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 100 universities in the nation and top 40 public universities, and Kiplinger names it one of the 35 best values in public colleges. One of four University Center campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, putting it in an elite group of universities that run federal research and development laboratories. A global ranking by U.S. News & World Report places Stony Brook in the top 1 percent of institutions worldwide.  It is one of only 10 universities nationwide recognized by the National Science Foundation for combining research with undergraduate education. As the largest single-site employer on Long Island, Stony Brook is a driving force of the regional economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4 percent of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.

 

Greg Filiano
Media Relations Manager, School of Medicine, Stony Brook University
Office: 631.444.9343
gregory.filiano@stonybrookmedicine.edu