Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Tools and Strategies for Growing Citizen Science

Description

Long-term datasets are rare, especially those based on field protocols that cover a broad spatial scale. We describe a collaborative effort with the Island County Beach Watchers program of Washington State University Extension (as of 2016, the Sound Water Stewards of Island County), which has collected citizen scientist data from Whidbey and Camano Islands in Puget Sound, WA, since 1994. We evaluated the dataset from three perspectives to address (1) science objectives about specific research questions, (2) management objectives that fulfill gaps in knowledge for effective planning and decision making, and (3) volunteer objectives that provide feedback to the network of citizen scientists on the value of their data. The dataset was generated by volunteers going to beaches on an annual basis to record beach slope, substrate, and biodiversity using a prescribed protocol. We found that volunteers could consistently and reliably collect high quality data, at a precision level dependent on their methods and training. Results indicated that taxa richness was higher at dynamic beaches that had active sediment movement. Patterns of eelgrass change over time were fairly stable, showing only a slight decrease, with variability in the signature at specific beaches. Fauna and flora community and sediment composition enabled the categorization of beaches into different types, which can be used to help understand broad patterns of beach structure and function. Our goal is to connect and refine the data being collected by citizen scientists in order to answer questions from decision makers and other partners about how to better manage nearshore resources.

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How citizen science informs science, management, and volunteer objectives

2016SSEC

Long-term datasets are rare, especially those based on field protocols that cover a broad spatial scale. We describe a collaborative effort with the Island County Beach Watchers program of Washington State University Extension (as of 2016, the Sound Water Stewards of Island County), which has collected citizen scientist data from Whidbey and Camano Islands in Puget Sound, WA, since 1994. We evaluated the dataset from three perspectives to address (1) science objectives about specific research questions, (2) management objectives that fulfill gaps in knowledge for effective planning and decision making, and (3) volunteer objectives that provide feedback to the network of citizen scientists on the value of their data. The dataset was generated by volunteers going to beaches on an annual basis to record beach slope, substrate, and biodiversity using a prescribed protocol. We found that volunteers could consistently and reliably collect high quality data, at a precision level dependent on their methods and training. Results indicated that taxa richness was higher at dynamic beaches that had active sediment movement. Patterns of eelgrass change over time were fairly stable, showing only a slight decrease, with variability in the signature at specific beaches. Fauna and flora community and sediment composition enabled the categorization of beaches into different types, which can be used to help understand broad patterns of beach structure and function. Our goal is to connect and refine the data being collected by citizen scientists in order to answer questions from decision makers and other partners about how to better manage nearshore resources.