UA, Auburn fans face off in citizen science contest – University of Alabama News

The Marble Bowl lets UA and Auburn fans compete in collecting much-needed data for Alabama’s ecosystems.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A new contest aims to excite everyone’s inner scientist by bringing the Iron Bowl grilling contest into the realm of citizen science.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System hosted the Marble Bowl for University of Alabama and Auburn University fans to compete in collecting much-needed data for Alabama’s ecosystems . The contest runs throughout the fall and will end on November 27.

“Alabama is blessed with incredible biodiversity that is among the highest in the country,” said Wesley Anderson, forest and wildlife scientist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and mastermind behind the Marble Bowl. “With these facts in mind, the increased need to document biodiversity around the state becomes clear.”

With citizen science, which is the participation of the public in scientific research, having a higher education degree is not a barrier to documenting the results. According to Anderson, anyone can contribute to science if they wish.

“Our world is changing rapidly and we need to develop a baseline of what biodiversity looks like in our state now so we can assess how it differs and what we should be doing about it,” Anderson said. “That means observations made around where you live, work and play are also valuable.”

Anderson coordinated his efforts with the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, and the Auburn University College of Forestry, Wildlife, and Environment.

Anyone can participate in the Marble Bowl by submitting sightings of wild plants, animals and fungi to one of two projects on iNaturalist, a free online platform that stores public sightings of biological organisms.

The public can follow the Marble Bowl project online to follow the current score. Participants will need to join the University of Alabama Project or the Auburn University Project to ensure observations count and are brought to the appropriate team. Participants should only join one of the two projects or the observations will cancel each other out.

For more information, visit the Alabama Cooperative Extension System website.


Dr. John Friel, [email protected]


Rebecca Johnson, UA Museums, [email protected], 205-348-6283

The University of Alabama, part of the University of Alabama system, is the flagship university in the state. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA offers an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the largest institution of higher learning in the state, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.


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