The San Diego Natural History Museum is embarking on a study in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Since little is known of its biology or population trends, we will to try to determine the distribution and habitat use of the southern California flying squirrels (Glaucomys oregonensis californicus).

We are partnering with citizen scientists to generate current data about the distribution along the urban edge and the squirrel’s use of habitats where residential properties meet the natural environment. We will track this information through iNaturalist.org, which provides a platform for citizen scientists to upload their observations and have them linked to databases used by scientists.

Study methods include visual encounters and motion-activated cameras. Participating citizens will be trained to deploy and manage motion cameras in their backyards. Landowners will maintain the cameras for a minimum of two weeks in summer and two weeks in winter.

The participants will be involved directly in the installation of equipment on their properties as well as the routine maintenance of the recording devices. At the completion of the sampling period, they will record all observations through iNaturalist, where they can view their own data in the larger framework of the regional research and track their contributions. They will also share their camera data cards with the San Diego Natural History Museum where the information will be gathered and studied.

Those interested in participating in the study may contact the Museum at squirrels@sdnhm.org or 619.255.0191.

About iNaturalist

The Museum is a partner with iNaturalist.org, led by the California Academy of Sciences, which is linked with the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), the Global Biodiversity Informatics Facility (GBIF), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Data such as georeferenced photographs of species uploaded by researchers and citizen scientists to iNaturalist.org are vetted by staff curators at member institutions and then mapped and linked to various online natural history platforms.

Integrating iNaturalist.org into our data gathering efforts will allow private landowners and researchers to connect their natural history observations with existing data sets, both enriching the online atlas and placing their observations into an ecological context.