Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

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Citizen science and global biodiversity

5.3 The contribution of citizen science projects to assessing biodiversity and the state of the planet

Many of the examples of citizen science projects introduced during this course have had as their aim a contribution to our knowledge of the diversity of life and, perhaps more importantly, the changes in biodiversity that are occurring over time. Other projects, such as the monarch butterfly project, aim to document the lifestyle and population changes of a single species. To support ithis assessment, some observations posted to the iSpot website, once identified and verified, are passed on to national recording organisations. Once projects have been running for a number of years, it is possible to identify trends in populations, and every year citizen scientists’ make observations that will enhance the value of the data sets to which they contribute.

Person on the beach in front of waves
Figure 13 Observing birds on a sandy bay

Over the eight weeks of this course, you have been introduced to the concept of citizen science and a wide range of examples of citizen science projects. As a citizen scientist you might work alone (Figure 13) or as part of a group. While some projects can be carried out at home with a computer, many offer opportunities to work in natural habitats (Figure 14).

group of people walking trhough a park
Figure 14 Exploring and recording and enjoying the natural world

You have also been introduced to surveying and identification techniques and have had opportunities to practise them. With this experience, you can join the swelling army of volunteers who, with their badge of ‘citizen scientist’, are making an increasingly important contribution to scientific knowledge – which is something to be proud of.

Finally, here are Janice and David with their concluding thoughts about the course.

Download this video clip.Video player: ispot_1_w8_video001.mp4
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Well, citizen science projects have blossomed-- I mean, there's more and more opportunities for people to get involved. And the projects are getting, I think, slightly more sophisticated. Partly, this is because technology has enabled people. It's enabled them to communicate and to deal with a very wide scope of projects. Also to deal with data sets that are distributed electronically. I mean, masses of opportunities there. So what advice would you give to people who want to get involved in citizen science projects?
Well, first of all, don't be daunted by it, that there is a lot out there. But just pick on the thing that interests you the most and explore from there. There are many opportunities out there, if you're not-- if you're not keen on biodiversity, but are really keen about understanding what's happening with the stars, try Zooniverse. If you really want to explore and understand the different flora and fauna, the different insects and plants that you see out there, have a look at iSpot. The key thing is getting involved, do something, our nature needs it.
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