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The Agua Hedionda Bio-Survey application is a new tool developed by CSUSM students, teachers, and the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation for  citizen-scientists to use on the trail. The app, easily accessed from any smart device with an internet connection, allows the user to identify flora/fauna around the Agua Hedionda Lagoon and submit their observations for analysis by the foundation. This community derived data not only provides users with a digital keepsake, it can be used to accurately project the spread of invasive plant species, plant community boundary lines, and sites of threatened species. Armed with this knowledge, environmental agencies have a springboard for more rigorous studies, without the need for large, expensive environmental analysis projects.



Why Become a Community Scientist?

Citizen science, defined as public participation in scientific study, is a new way for researchers and ecological firms to understand their surroundings. Research projects of this nature are often guided by experts, like the biologists at the Lagoon Foundation and CSU San Marcos. Citizen science efforts allow ecological groups to create models of natural-systems, define points of particular concern, and increase community engagement without excessive overhead costs. These projects have been implemented internationally, but are rare in the United States. Participating in a unique effort, like that of the Agua Headiona Bio-Survey Application, has immediate and powerful impacts on local legislation, regulations, and conservation. As it becomes more commonly practiced, community-databases will be integrated into significant research and conservation projects.

Bio-Survey Application​

Students from CSU San Marcos and staff from the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation strongly believe there is a need for more citizen science, public outreach, and community engagement in San Diego preserves. Citizen science can allow communities to accomplish cost-efficient, direct, and frequent management of our natural communities. While there is funding available for conservation, the first step in any project is to determine the problem. This GIS bio-survey tool, created by concerned community members like yourself, requires minimal funding, focuses on citizen science, and gives the community a direct line of communication to ecological firms. The mission of this bio-survey tool is to create a link between the community and their environment while producing a database of possible conservation projects.

Created by a team of environmental scientists, biologist, teachers, and AHLF staff, the application is a GIS-based, bio-survey project which is replicable for foundations throughout San Diego county. This pilot project at  the Agua Hedionda Lagoon promotes local environmental education, and provides training for non-profit staff and volunteers. Example benefits of this application include: timelines of preserve degradation/recovery, increased public participation in meaningful projects, defined boundaries for endangers plant/animal species, and an overall increase in environmental-stewardship. The accessibility of this tool allows a wide variety of community-members to participate in developing research questions and projects. As we collect more observations, students and staff regularly curate the map for accuracy.

How to Get Involved

To receive a hands-on demonstration of the Bio-Survey Application, visit us at one our free public bird walks. Our bird walks, hosted by expert birder Rick Grove, will now use the Bio-Survey application to track migratory bird populations through the lagoon. First time users will be given a full tutorial on how to use the application, and  AHLF staff will be present to answer any questions your may have. Bird Walks are held every third Sunday of the month at 8AM. Meet in the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation parking lot (1580 Cannon rd. Carlsbad, CA). We strongly recommend participating in a public tutorial before you begin collecting data.



Christina Simokat

Christina Simokat teaches environmental studies and biology at CSU San Marcos and spends a lot of time hanging around wetlands.  She is a native of San Diego and her research interests include citizen science and science communication, and local conservation.  Christina is always interested in hearing people’s ideas about starting cool new environmental projects – let’s talk!


Silvia Lopez

Silvia Lopez is a third year Environmental Studies major at CSU San Marcos, after graduation she will be pursuing a J.D. degree in Environmental Law. She enjoys aiding in the social understanding of the importance in protecting natural habitats. Silvia enjoys conducting research on environmental issues and aided in the research portion of avian species found at Agua Hedionda Lagoon.


George Argoud

George Argoud is a student at Cal Sate San Marcos, who is majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Spanish. As well, he is pursuing a certification in Global Information Systems (GIS) at Palomar Community College. A native San Diego resident, he enjoys music & surfing as his passions. While growing up in the North County area, George developed a great fondness for exploring the local canyons and wetlands. Professionally, George has been previously employed by RF Spot, volunteered with the North County Food Policy Council and is currently employed by Bucknam Infrastructure Group. 

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