Many invasive species, like Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), are threatening the world's natural resources, but the abundance of invasive species can vary dramatically over space and time. Scientists still do not have a good understanding of why this is so.
Through large-scale sampling, scientists can identify areas that differ in the intensity of invasion and try to understand why these differences exist. We can also compare this to variation in the native range. This may be crucial to researching new methods of control, but a large project like this could cost millions of dollars and years of work.
Through the use of a simple, standardized protocol, volunteers can help to generate valuable scientific data. Participating in this research does not require specialized training.
Researchers who participate in the survey will have early access to the database and the opportunity to participate in the more technical aspects of the study, such as analysis and co-writing for scientific journals.
Educators can offer their students an invaluable opportunity for hands-on participation in peer-reviewed scientific research, and compare class results to the larger dataset involving hundreds of populations.
Private citizens will find a rare opportunity to contribute to cuttting-edge biological research and learn more about how scientists come to understand the natural world.