Community Science

your observations make a difference

From photographing bees to watching nesting birds, community science projects connect people in fun, family-friendly efforts to understand the environment.

Community science asks individuals to contribute their observations of a particular thing — birds, frogs, flowers and, more — to a central database, which trained scientists analyze. It infinitely extends the observational powers of scientists around the world, allowing them to ask- and answer- questions about changes in the environment that otherwise would be impossible to contemplate.

For participating individuals, community science offers a chance to connect with and learn about the outside world in a real, meaningful, and often very fun way. Whether you’re interested in participating from home or engaging with an existing Arboretum opportunity, this page is a great place to start!

Arboretum Projects

Join us on the second Saturday of each month for a two-hour bird survey led by Arboretum staff members.

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Add to over a century of citizen science data by participating in the annual Buffalo Bayou Christmas Bird Count.

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Upcoming Community Science Opportunities:

Choose Your Own Adventure


iNaturalist is an observation database powered by people like you! Simply take a photo of a living organism anywhere in the world, upload it to iNaturalist on desktop or mobile, and wait for experts to help identify your finding. Check out the Arboretum’s project page to see what you might find along the trails.

If you like contests, iNaturalist hosts an international species observation competition every spring called the City Nature Challenge. For a kid-friendly version of iNaturalist, try Seek!


As its name suggests, eBird is all about birds! The system allows birders across the globe to keep checklists of the birds they’ve seen while contributing to science and conservation initiatives.

eBird also has fun tools that allow users to see maps of species distribution, find lists of sightings at nearby hotspots, and even receive alerts when certain species have been spotted. Look at the Arboretum hotspot to see what visitors are seeing on the trails.

Nature’s Notebook

Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal changes in nature. Nature’s Notebook works with scientists and non-scientists to collect phenology observations in the US throughout the year.

The plant and animal phenology data is used by scientists for discovery and decision-making. The information can help professionals predict threats like wildfires and flooding or decide the best timing for management practices like controlled burns.

Invaders of Texas

Invaders of Texas is a program, headed by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, established to harness the power of volunteer scientists to identify and catalog invasive plant species’ locations all over the state.

The Arboretum has joined the project as a satellite site, and work days are open to Arboretum Volunteers. If you’d like to learn more about Invaders and help us remove invasive species, consider becoming a Volunteer!

If you are interested in doing your own independent work for the Invaders of Texas program, you can contact them to find out more about training and how to get involved.

Photo credit Christina Spade, Brandon Huttenlocher / Design Workshop, Inc

Support the Houston Arboretum

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization which depends on donations to support nature education and conservation programs for Houstonians of all ages.

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