MORE CITIZEN SCIENCE: • PROJECT BUDBURST: Participants choose a plant or plants to observe, then begin checking their plants at least a week before the date of the average budburst. They are looking for the point at which the buds have opened to reveal visible leaves. Participants report that data, and continue to observe the plant for other events such as first leaf, first flower, and also seed dispersal. Project BudBurst takes the information that participants record, then creates maps of these events across the United States. • GALAXY ZOO: Astrophysicists created a website that allows anyone around the globe to log in and contribute information about galaxies they observed. The website asks that contributors classify the galaxies by answering a series of questions about the way the galaxy looks. From these efforts, several new galaxies have been discovered.
NOT JUST THE LADYBUG: Bees are also mysteriously disappearing. The affliction is called Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. There is not yet any clear explanation for why the bees are dying in such large numbers. It appears that their immune systems are compromised. This could be due to nutritional problems: as bees migrate from the north to the south during the winter, they feed on nutritionally poor plants and ingest second-rate sugars, such as the leftovers from soda production. Alternatively, there might be a new parasite or virus in the environment that is able to bypass the bees' immune system. For instance, the varroa mite is a bloodsucking parasite that attacks honeybees, resulting in deformed wings and abdomens. The varroa mite also transmits viruses. The tracheal mite gets inside adult bees and clogs their breathing tubes, suffocating them. Bees may also be dying because of chemical pesticides commonly used in the US to treat crops.