Snowshoe on Tromsø island with a purpose

4 Hours
Citizen Science Activity
Recommended Contribution from

NOK 1250

Per Person
Research partner: The Arctic University of Norway (University of Tromsø, UIT), ASTI

In a nutshell

Where: Near Tromsø
When: All year round

Duration: 4 hours

Meeting time: 10:00 in front of Scandic Ishavhotel (city center)
Return: 14:00.
Inclusions: Snack (sandwich), hot drinks.
Group size: 8 maximum
Goal: To better understand how artificial light at night affects songbirds
Missions: Depending of the time of year we'll build nest boxes, put them up in trees, visit and maintain the nests, ring adults and chicks, fill the feeding stations, setup camera traps and swap the memory cards.

Why is this project important?

Urbanization is one of the most expressive human impacts and causes dramatic changes in the natural environment. An obvious difference between urban and natural environments is the amount of artificial light at night (ALAN). While the increased use of ALAN is related to an improvement in comfort for humans, it disrupts the biological clocks of plants and animals. This is because the daily light-dark cycle is important in synchronizing those clocks. Studies show that animals modify their activity patterns in the presence of ALAN and also modify the timing of seasonal activities such as breeding.

One relevant question is how urbanization will impact wildlife in the Arctic. Because of the natural long days and nights in the Arctic throughout the year, the presence of ALAN in cities may affect animals and plants in different ways than what is observed in southern locations where the majority of studies take place. Thus, this project will study how animals manage the time of their activities during the day and over the seasons and how this is connected to their survival and reproductive success. It will focus on small birds (great tit, blue tit, willow tit and pied flycatcher).

What are the goals of the project?

- To better understand how artificial light at night affects songbirds.
- To raise awareness about light pollution.

Our partners

The Arctic University of Norway (UiT)

Wild Lab Projects is partnering with a biochronologist at the Arctic Seasonal Timekeeping Initiative (ASTI). Every participant who joins this activity supports this research project as a citizen scientist, under the guidance of Wild Lab Projects. We include both visitors and locals (inhabitants, schools) in this project.

Birdlife Troms

Wild Lab Projects and Birdlife Troms work together to facilitate the realization of this citizen science project.

How you can contribute

Join our educator for a few hours, and participate in the fieldwork research activities in the forests on and off Tromsø island. This project runs all year round, and what we do depends on the time of year:

The nest boxes

About a hundred nest boxes are used for this research project, and we are putting up new ones regularly. From April to August, we visit the boxes to check their occupancy and record the laying and hatching dates (phenology). We ring the chicks before they fledge (leave the nest), and monitor the breeding success. We run nest checks all year round, and replace the boxes that need fixing.

The feeding stations 

We use the feeding stations to keep track of the movements and survival of the birds that we have ringed. A camera trap takes photos when a bird visit the feeder, so the system is automated but not totally independent. We still need to fill the feeders with seeds, and change the cameras' battery and memory card.

At 10:00, we will meet in the city center (in front of Scandic Ishavhotel). A facilitator will welcome you there, we will introduce ourselves, and she/he will give a short presentation of the project and the activity to follow. Before we go back to Tromsø, we will take some time to debrief about the day. We will be back in town by 14:00.

What happens next?

Your observations are immediately shared with our research partner, who will eventually publish the result of their work in scientific journals and other media. The role of Wild Lab is to make sure that these results reach you. Surely, you will appreciate seeing that your contribution has been useful and productive. As for us, reporting is a way to maintain a connection with our volunteers, to keep raising awareness and maintain a community of nature advocates. Tromsø needs them, and there are many places in the world where light pollution is an issue. As a rule, if you have joined one of our projects, you will hear from us.

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