Tracking ecosystem change through citizen science one photo at a time.

Photo by Connor Maloney – Chronolog station at prairie overlook at Wood Lake Nature center.

Each year, over 100,000 visitors step foot around the trails of Wood Lake Nature Center. The park staff and volunteers have actively been managing the native prairie and oak savanna, lowland forest, and invasive goldfish in the marsh within the 150 acres of the park. By removing invasive species, planting native trees, shrubs, grasses, and forbs, biodiversity in both flora and fauna can flourish in an urban park setting. The park’s mission is to educate and engage its many visitors with important restoration work in an impactful way. Thanks to Chronolog, visitors now have the opportunity to record ecosystem change one photo at a time through citizen science.

Recently, Wood Lake Nature Center installed three Chronolog stations at key locations around the park; the Wood Lake Boardwalk, the Prairie Overlook, and the East Forest Pond Inlet. Chronolog is used worldwide to create crowd-sourced time-lapse that monitor the environment and engage communities in citizen science. Wood Lake visitors can use their cellphones to capture and email photos to create long-term, time-lapse records of the ecosystem around the park located in Richfield, MN. This project was funded by Friends of Wood Lake (FOWL) and is a great way to engage the community while gathering data on natural areas one photo at a time.

Often restoration work takes years to begin to see positive impacts to the ecosystem, but projects like Chronolog make it simple and easy to document these dynamic changes with the help of visitors in an interactive way. Photographers can see the change immediately after submitting their photo thanks to the time-lapse capability of Chronolog using previously submitted photos by guests over time.

“We are hopeful our visitors will be excited to snap a photo the next time they walk past one of the three locations in the park. The more photos are submitted, the faster we will be able to notice the positive impacts of our restoration work.” says Interpretive Naturalist Brianna Rodgers.