Orchid Observers

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Zooniverse project website: orchidobservers.org

Natural History Museum website: https://www.nhm.ac.uk/take-part/citizen-science/orchid-observers.html

Blog: https://blog.orchidobservers.org/

Fifty-six native species of orchid grow wild in the UK, flowering from April to September. Recent research indicates that climate change is affecting the flowering time of the early spider orchid, Ophrys sphegodes. The Natural History Museum (NHM) wanted to find out if this is true for other wild orchids and whether all species are responding in the same way, starting with 29 species. To gather data from across the UK, they needed as many people as possible to photograph orchids during the spring and summer of 2015, and to send them the images with the date and location.

Alongside this, the NHM has around 15,000 orchid specimens in the Museum’s British and Irish herbarium. Collected over three centuries, they can tell us about flowering times in the past. Extracting data from so many specimens is a huge task for the Museum’s researchers, so they needed the help of citizen scientists to check and transcribe each sheet.

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