I just learned about another doggie DNA lab. This one is a non-profit research organization called Darwin’s Ark. You can pay for a DNA test kit, or you can get on the waitlist to get a free one if you answer 10 short questionnaires about your dog. There are 26 questionnaires, each with around 10 questions. I answered all of them, but I doubt that will bump me up in the list. They rely on grants and donations, and only run the DNA tests when they get enough money and a certain number of entrants. So it could be years before I get to do this test for Wren, but I’m interested to see if it provides more information about her breed mix than the first one. They use substantially more genetic markers than Embark, which uses the most of any commercial lab. Even if you don’t want to get the DNA test, the questionnaires still provide valuable data as they work on issues like dog cancer, and ticks.
This is just one of the many citizen science projects that technology and the world wide web make available to anyone to participate in. I’m grateful for these opportunities to provide our everyday observations to teams that can learn and discover. Some others are: I See Change, which was born in the North Fork Valley and now has participants around the world measuring and sharing climate change in their backyards; eBird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology gathering bird sightings from around the world to advance research and conservation; and CoCoRahs, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, which started 25 years ago on Colorado’s Front Range and now has participants throughout North America and beyond. Technically I’m a member of all these, though I’ve let my participation in a couple of them slide in recent years. National Geographic also has a list of fine citizen science opportunities.