What We Do

MassMammals Watch is a project dedicated to enhancing our current knowledge on the population density and distribution of mammals in the Pioneer Valley, as well as across Massachusetts. Our goal is to collaborate with locals to find out where and which mammals are found in the area.

Photo Credit: Sam Zhang ’21

Another project we are working on, MassBears, is focused primarily on the abundance and distribution of black bears. We are looking to accumulate more data to better understand where bears are concentrated, as well as how the population changes throughout the area. During the summer field season, we used hair corrals to collect samples of black bear hair which we then extracted the DNA from the hair samples to identify individual bears. We are using this data to get a population estimate for black bears in the state. With your help, we will be able to collect more data that will enable us to study how these animals are interacting with urban environments. Go to our MassBears site to learn more about this project!

A lab member doing spotter work

We are also interested in learning about other mammals known to inhabit Massachusetts, such as the moose and the coyote. Because collecting hair samples from all the mammals in Massachusetts would be incredibly difficult, this is where you come in! We aim to utilize citizen science to answer our questions through tasks as simple as noting where they see animal tracks. We would love to have your help!

In addition, we are working with educators to bring Citizen Science into the classroom. Engaging young students in actual ecological research gives them the sense of agency to get involved with helping the environment and, in a broader sense, think critically and actively about the world around them. Visit our page for educators to learn more about how we are involving students in our project!

How To Get Involved

Any data you contribute will be valuable to our project. Simply by reporting your sightings, responding to our questionnaires, spotting, or trapping, we can localize where mammals are and aren’t being seen.

Fill out this Volunteer Form to get involved!

There are a couple of ways to help:

  1. You can help us collect data on mammals in Massachusetts, as either a spotter or a trail camera user.
  2. If you are interested in our study on black bears in Massachusetts, visit our MassBears website for more details.

We greatly appreciate any and all help to our project!