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Olympic Marmot: Citizen Science

More than 80 volunteers from throughout the Puget Sound and as far away as Philadelphia and Los Angeles have traveled to Olympic National Park in the summers of 2010, 2011 and 2012 to participate in a long-awaited marmot monitoring program supported by donors to Washington's National Park Fund.

From late July through mid August 2010, volunteers learned about the Olympic Marmot and potential climate change threats to its habitat, 90 percent of which is within the boundaries of Olympic National Park. The "citizen scientists" then set out for 4 to 7 day trips with binoculars, GPS units, maps, and data sheets looking for marmots and marmot burrows, and recording their findings. Volunteers continued this research during the summers of 2011 and 2012, thanks to generous donors to Washington's National Park Fund.

Study results have enhanced the knowledge base of the connection between marmot ecology and climate change, and helped inform natural resource management decisions in the park.

"We ventured to places we wouldn't have been motivated to explore on our own," said volunteer Wendy Holcomb of Tacoma. "Our children enjoyed it and the terrain was spectacular! It was a great introduction to volunteering."

Park staff is pleased with the monitoring program's initial results, which prove consistent with earlier findings of population decline, and indicate that volunteers provided good data to work with.

See results from 2010 here: Marmot Monitoring 2010 Results
See resultes from 2011 here: Marmot Monitoring 2011 Results.
See results from 2012 here: Marmot Monitoring 2012 Results.

Recruitment for the summer of 2013 will begin in the Spring of 2013. You can volunteer via Olympic National Park's website here.