Has COVID-19 Affected Our Air Quality?
Get Involved in a Continuing Citizen Science Project!

Remember the shutdown that began in the spring of 2020? The Amigos were asked to participate in a plant collection study that would determine the effects of the stay at home order on air quality by collecting grass samples and sending them to scientists for analysis. The study continues. Now in its second year, the Amigos are continuing to assist with a research project that is being conducted by the University of California, Irvine and the University of California, Riverside. As the shutdown continued into 2021 with many people working from home and schools remaining closed, you likely noticed a significant decrease in traffic. As California begins to reopen, comparison samples are now needed. Scientists at UCI and UCR will be measuring the isotopic composition of carbon in several species of invasive annual grasses in order to estimate fossil fuel consumption and its relationship to air quality during our stay-at-home period and comparing them to levels in this spring’s grasses.

To assist in this study, we are again looking for Naturalists, Citizen Scientists and the curious in general who will collect invasive grass specimens and mail them to Cindy Yanez at UCI (see web address below). The plants being used in this study are known as Ripgut and Cheatgrass which are both in the Bromus genus, and Wild or Slender oats from the Avena genus. These weeds are truly everywhere but are most commonly found in open fields and along roadways, especially in disturbed soils. It is critical to collect grasses from around the state in order to be a solid piece of research. Even sending one sample from your area will enhance the research if enough people contribute.

Here is a link to Cindy Yanez's webpage which provides additional information on the research study:
https://www.cindyyanez.com/research
For more detailed instruction on how to collect the grasses, see this link:
https://www.cindyyanez.com/citizen-scientists

Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge. Through citizen science, people share and contribute to data monitoring and collection programs, expanding the breath and scope of data and research. We hope that you will join the Amigos in this effort to learn more about the impact of the pandemic on air quality. The grass sample collection (cutting the grass, labeling its location, and mailing it) will greatly expand the research.