Monitoring Migration

Although designed primarily for K-12 students, Journey North (http:/ / is another Internet-based data collection project, focused on migratory species in North America. Students and the public participate in tracking the migration patterns of monarch butterflies, robins, hummingbirds, whooping cranes, gray whales, bald eagles, and birds and mammals. Sightings are automatically added to databases, which can be observed as animated maps on line. For whooping cranes, students can watch chicks grow and then learn migration as humans lead the way using ultra-light airplanes in Operation Migration (http://www. With bald eagles, students can collaborate with a biologist using satellite telemetry to track bald eagles to their nests in Canada. Regular reports are posted so that participants can see how their observations are used.

One of the best known and watched migratory species on Journey North is the monarch butterfly. However, both eastern and western populations of monarchs in North America appear to be in serious decline. For the eastern population, the number reaching their forested wintering grounds in Mexico in 2005 was the lowest since record keeping began about 30 years ago. For the western population, butterflies roosting at Pismo Beach, California, have had population fluctuations in the past, but there has been a steady decline from 115,000 in 1998-1999 to 22,000 in 2006-2007 (Barlow, 2008).

The annual migration of the California gray whale off the coast of California has been intensively monitored for 24 consecutive seasons by volunteers from the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Cetacean Society (Schulman-Janiger, 2007). Both southbound (December-February) and northbound (February-May) migrants are monitored from the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, 125 feet above sea level on the Palos Verdes Peninsula (Schulman-Janiger, 2007). In the 2006-2007 season, the census station operated for 166 days, averaging over 12 hours per day. Seventy-four volunteers contributed 7,697 effort hours on the program. Since many of the whales use offshore migratory routes, the counts cannot be used to determine the absolute population size, but they do provide useful data on seasonal use of the nearshore migratory path, reproductive rates, long-term population trends and behaviors including breaching, spyhopping, rolling, courtship, nursing, possible feeding, and interaction with other marine mammals and humans. The program also provides data on many other marine mammals that frequent the area.

Limits to Engagement

Although engaging the public in biodiversity is often essential to generating the political support needed for biodiversity conservation, some areas become so popular with the public that limits must be placed on visitation. National parks, of course, must limit visitation in order to preserve the resource and to maintain the quality of the experience for visitors. But similar problems exist outside the parks, as we have seen locally with tidepools, always a source of fascination for visitors but seriously limited in area and highly vulnerable to damage by collecting and trampling. This problem has been addressed in a new and quantitative way by the Tidepool Education Interpretive Program at the Treasure Island Seashore in Laguna Beach (Rosaler, 2007). Over a one-year period, 29,363

326 / Peter J. Bryant visitors were observed and 18,268 were approached by program staff for an "educational interaction." During that time the staff witnessed 1,205 infractions of the city's posted tidepool rules (Never pick up or remove animals, shells, or rocks; Do not pull animals off the rocks, or poke them with sticks; Walk gently, taking care not to step on plants or animals; Never turn over rocks). The study showed a low number (0-20) of infractions up to a certain level of visitation, but after the visitations exceeded about 250 people per day the number of infractions increased substantially. This suggested that at this population density the visitors become increasingly difficult to manage and that this particular beach had a visitor "carrying capacity" of about 250 per day, above which additional management techniques are required to prevent degradation of the resource.

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