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Citizen science data collection on UT campus

Earlier this Spring and Summer, you may have seen students walking through the ITC building in white suites, carrying interesting equipment, wondering what they were doing. These were the students from the elective “Spatial Temporal Analytics and Modeling” carrying out a citizen science blanket dragging fieldwork assignment. This assignment was developed last year with a subsidy from the Citizen Science team at ITC.

When blanket dragging, you pull a piece of fabric over vegetation to determine if there are any ticks present. The class split into groups to get good coverage of the campus area and collect data for various vegetation types (trees, high grasses, low grasses). The blanket dragging was very successful. Some groups came back reporting as many as 30 ticks just outside the ITC building. They had never realized that there are so many ticks and they can be found on campus.

In the remaining part of the elective, students worked on a group project using citizen science data about ticks and tick bites. Experiencing blanket dragging helped them to better understand the importance of citizen science data collection. We do not have a campus tick report website yet, to upload and share information on ticks and tick bites on campus but would like to develop such a website before next year’s course.

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