Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

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Citizen science and global biodiversity

Week 8: Citizen science community


There are two themes to the final week. The first theme is case studies of citizen science projects from around the world that illustrate how the data collected by participants in the example projects contributed to scientific knowledge. The second theme is reflections on the contributions that citizen science and, more particularly, citizen scientists themselves can make to the advancement of our understanding of global diversity in a connected world. This introductory video features a discussion between two of the course authors – Janice Ansine and David Robinson – about how their interest in citizen science was stimulated and what projects particularly excited them from the examples described in the course.

Download this video clip.Video player: ispot_1_w8_intro.mp4
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Hello. I'm David Robinson.
And I'm Janice Ansine.
And we're going to introduce you to the final week in which you're going to take a global view and look at some projects in detail. And hopefully, this will encourage you to take part in citizen science projects yourself, if you haven't already done so.
So Janice, what got you interested in citizen science in the first place?
Well, for me, David, it was just a general interest in nature and caring about the environment. So in the earlier times when I was in Jamaica, I would get involved in beach cleanups and getting involved with the members of the public. And then when I came back to the UK, it actually evolved more with managing projects, but managing projects that I loved to get involved with as well. So it could be going on and observing different species, or going bird watching. But it's having an interest in looking after that flora and fauna that are so important to what we do generally.
Well, I got interested because I joined a small group of people who were just interested in rearing insects, in fact, stick insects, which were not very common collections in the country at that stage. And I got an enormous satisfaction working with enthusiastic amateurs. And now that group of people have gone on, they've collected, and they now make major contributions to the scientific literature about stick insects. And so they've become from-- followed a route from being amateurs to, effectively, almost professional citizen scientists. And it's very, very rewarding working with them.
That really defines what the citizen science is, doesn't it?
It does, yes. Well, as you've been through the weeks, looked at a number of examples of citizen science projects, and of course in this week we're going to be considering some more, but which of the ones that we've already looked at did you find most exciting?
Well, I think for me, the one that really grabbed me-- because, of course, I've been involved with iSpot from day one-- what was the overarching project that got us started, and that is looking at the OPAL Explore Nature. I think that's the one that's resonated because it's one of them that has actually influenced my career and my interest in science over the past number of years.
And it really is one that has impacted in the UK, as it gives people the chance to get involved in science as a scientist, working with scientists, and getting something more out of their experience in a wide number of areas. So you can do a biodiversity survey, you can look at pollinators, you can look at earthworms. So you can get interested in any aspect that interests you.
Which one is the most significant one for you, David?
I think it was the one, the long-term study of the monarch butterfly. That I found fascinating because it's been going a long time, more and more people have got involved, and it started to reveal things that we simply didn't know. It's beginning to embrace some new techniques, like bar code use. And I think that that's an excellent example of how people can contribute. And in contributing, they're also learning, and learning both, learning about the natural environment, but also learning the skills they can then apply perhaps in other projects.
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By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • use online resources to find and participate in citizen science projects
  • understand the scope of existing citizen science projects
  • understand the value of data sets and be able to quote examples
  • recognise and give examples of the value of technology in enhancing citizen science projects.

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