As many of us sit indoors looking out at frost and snow and reflecting on our dragonfly pursuits of the past year, the MDP is hard at work rolling out new web site updates. You asked and we answered! Feedback from our volunteers is guiding development of new web tools to help foster communication and cultivate new connections between other dedicated volunteers. Newly instituted changes will enable participants to create a member profile, share email addresses (if desired), and make their monitoring site a Shared Locality that multiple users can add to their Locality lists. Only registered web site users will be able to view these member lists, shared sites, and shared email addresses.
How does a Shared Locality work? Any new or existing monitoring site created by a MDP volunteer can now be designated as "shared", and all shared sites will be visible in a list. Other Pond Watch and Migration Monitoring volunteers that visit the same site can add shared sites to their Favorites, allowing multiple users to report data on the same locality. Participants may also choose to connect with each other at a shared site to plan Pond Watch outings or coordinate schedules for visits. Shared sites also make it easy for habitats at nature centers, parks, and wildlife refuges to be monitored by multiple volunteers, facilitating place-based learning and bringing together people with a shared interest in dragonflies and their migration.
We at MDP are excited and inspired by the increasing numbers of participants reporting their observations this year, and grateful to all of our Pond Watch and Migration Monitoring volunteers across North America. We hope these added web site functionalities will increase communication among current volunteers, encourage participation by new observers, and foster the use of Pond Watch as a place-based learning tool at ponds and wetlands in wildlife refuges, parks, and arboretums. These changes will continue to roll out in the next few months, and will include a new page called "Shared Localities" under the "Localities" tab that displays all shared localities on a map along with any associated contact information to help users to connect with other local dragonflyers. Next time you visit the MDP website, be sure to edit your profile or create a new profile for the Member List, and elect to share your email address if you'd like other participants to be able to contact you!
Finally, as we look forward to another year of research and reporting, we want to hear from you, our volunteers. The annual survey distributed at the beginning of December will allow you to rate MDP resources and tools and provide valuable feedback about both what you like and what could be improved to make your role as a citizen scientist easier. Also later this winter, keep an eye on your inbox for our Annual Report to Citizen Scientist Volunteers, in which we highlight MDP achievements in 2013, report on the data, and summarize participant feedback. As another year comes to a close, we want to pause and thank all of you for keeping your eyes on the skies as we celebrate another successful season of dragonfly monitoring, bringing us one step closer to understanding dragonfly migration and promoting cross-border conservation of these beautiful and fascinating insects.