The Beetle Project

The Beetle Project was developed from our desire to increase interest in and knowledge of the dynamic, changing, environment around us.  It was designed as a citizen science project—a collaborative means of science investigation, data collection, and data analysis.

Participating in this project will provide you with the opportunity to learn about your local climate and ways your local climate is changing, your local soils, and the impacts nonnative species are having on your local environment.   You will gain field research experience and contribute the data you collect to a Japanese beetle map, which serves as the centerpiece to the online science community.   

 skeletonized leaf
Skeletonized leaf: Photo courtesy of Allan Varcoe, ENVS student--ESC.

Goals of the project include:

  • Developing a visual, virtual map of the life stages and population densities of Japanese beetles across the state of New York
  • Increasing understanding related to the ways climate change impacts local ecosystems and biodiversity and non-native species
  • Establishing an online science community where participants can collaborate with each other during the research process and share ideas, data, and experiences
  • Capturing the interest of a wide diversity of students to increase interest and enrollment in STEM studies, programs, and majors
  • Increasing faculty resources for developing new and innovative studies in environmental and agricultural studies.


Web-based citizen science projects are increasing in number across the United States.  Citizen Science projects, as diverse as Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s YardMap,, and Project FeederWatch, and Citizen Science Alliance’s Zooniverse,, have demonstrated the effectiveness of engaging citizen scientists in environmental data collection and in the interpretation of large data sets. 

From an educational standpoint, citizen science projects provide students with a potentially long term, interactive means of learning about their local environment, environmental change, and scientific research.  Project Beetle fits within this educational scope of citizen science. The mission and overall educational design of SUNY/Empire State College, which are focused on providing educational experiences to and promoting life-long learning in individuals across a broad geographical area, perfectly complement the goals of and methods used in citizen science projects. 

 Student in the field

Fieldwork: Photo courtesy of Kohen Joiner, ENVS student, ESC.

Your participation in this project will contribute to our understanding of a few of the ways the environment is changing across New York State and beyond.  We hope that your participation in the project will also spark your interest in the environment and provide you with a way to share your observations with others who have developed similar connections to the environment around them.


To learn more about citizen science visit


The Beetle Project--An Undergraduate Research Experience: Using Technology and GIS to Monitor Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Japanese Beetle Populations, Related to Changing Climate Conditions, Across New York State--was funded by a USDA—NIFA—Higher Education Challenge (HEC) Grant and a SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG).