California Naturalist
University of California
California Naturalist

Citizen Science for CA Naturalists

Welcome to our ongoing effort to catalog citizen science and other public participation in scientific research (PPSR) projects for UC California Naturalists and other citizen scientists.  We invite you to browse the listed projects or enter key words (like birds, youth, invasive, coast, Alameda, etc.) in the search box above to find projects in your area. It's a great way to stay involved and keep developing your skills as a natural scientist!

A vast majority of the information in the database was gathered from project websites and may be out of date. We encourage you to contact projects directly to get involved and learn about most recent opportunities. If you work with a listed project and would like to add to, update, or correct the information we have, please email Also, please consider filling out the "PPSR perspectives" survey. Click here to access the survey, which will help guide this project in the coming year.

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

Special thanks goes to the National Science Foundation Informal Science Education program and the Stephen J. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation for supporting this database of projects.

 Project Name SOD (Sudden Oak Death) Blitzes
 Organization Name UC Berkeley Forest Pathology Lab
 Project Website
 Organization Website
 Contact Name Dr. Matteo Garbelotto
 Contact Email
 Other Contact Information Please include in the subject the word "SOD-Blitz." 
To participate in a SOD-Blitz, check website for scheduled SOD-Blitzes and contact the organizer directly. 
To organize a new SOD-Blitz, contact Dr. Matteo Garbelotto. Requests need to arrive at least 6 months before the desired date to allow for proper organization.

 Project Purpose (taken from project materials) SOD-blitzes inform and educate the community about Sudden Oak Death, get locals involved in detecting the disease, and produce detailed local maps of disease distribution. The map can then be used to identify those areas where the infestation may be mild enough to justify proactive management.Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a serious exotic disease, is threatening the survival of tanoak and several oak species in California. Researchers have discovered that the pathogen that causes SOD spreads most often on infected California bay laurel leaves. Some management options are available (sanitation, chemical preventative treatments, bay removal), but they are effective only if implemented before oaks and tanoaks are infected. Timely detection of the disease on bay laurel leaves is key for a successful proactive attempt to slow down the SOD epidemic.  

 Participant Activities Following a training meeting, leaf samples and information about location and surroundings are collected by the individual participants during a specific weekend. Samples and accompanying forms are then turned in at a central location Saturday and Sunday evenings. Samples are analyzed by UC Berkeley diagnostic laboratory through microscopic and DNA analyses to determine the presence or absence of P. ramorum/Sudden Oak Death. At a follow-up meeting, analysis is reported and discussed.

 Data Entry Collection Kits, Data Sheets
 Other Participant Activities Involvement in discussion of data and formulation of action plan (see below).

Project organizers work with tens of local communities throughout California through  collaborations with local environmental leaders to organize town hall meetings where education on SOD is provided. Upon local request,  a rigorous but accessible training session is organized in the same communities on how to identify SOD and then volunteers survey their own neighborhood  and collect samples (SOD BLITZ).  All samples are then processed in the UCB lab to confirm presence of the disease. Results are posted on web and discussed in follow-up local meetings (over 50 per year)

 System Studied Plants
 Geographic Scope Regional
 Region Northern California
 Location Areas where SOD is currently at a low or intermediate level?
 Location - Map 54 Mulford Hall, Berkeley, CA, 94720
 Time Commitment Specific dates (see Other Information below)
 Volunteer Qualifications None.

 Volunteer Training Yes. Training and education are a priority of this project. Training meeting prior to collection includes:

  • Training to identify SOD symptoms on CA bay laurel and other hosts
  • Explain the details of the sampling/collection process (number of samples, bagging, storing, tagging, distance between sampled trees)
  • Explain how to record the sample location (address, GPS, etc)
  • Explain how to fill out the collection form
  • Define collection areas for each participant
  • Distribute necessary materials to participants (forms, bags, markers, GPS units, laminated pictorial identification cards)
 How will the findings be used? One to four months later (dependent upon workload and number of samples collected) a follow-up community meeting may be organized. At the meeting, results will be presented, and management options discussed.

 last update: 9/4/12

If you work with this project and would like to add to or update the information below, please email

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

This database is focused on projects in California focused on the environment. For opportunities outside California, as well as national projects that don't have a California-specific components, check

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