Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Tools and Strategies for Growing Citizen Science

Description

Citizen Science can be an ideal way of collecting large amounts of data over a large area for extended periods of time that few projects depending on staff scientists can afford. However, adequate training is necessary and rigorous methods must be adhered to. Pacific Biodiversity Institute has used citizen scientists to collect land-based observations on the presence of harbor porpoises in Burrows Pass, Fidalgo Island, Washington since 2009. These observations are a completely independent metric that complements our underwater acoustic data recording the presence of the porpoise 24 hours a day through the entire year in the same location. There is strong agreement between the citizen-science data and the acoustic data over a four year interval. This agreement validates both sets of data. PBI has similar work going at other locations in the Salish Sea.

We have developed guidelines for creating a citizen science project that assures strong, scientifically credible data. To be valid, a project must have a good experimental design and a robust protocol for collecting quantified data with a defined unit of effort. The methods must be repeatable and consistent. The protocol must be robust enough to be applied years later with other observers and to give data that can be compared to previous data to assess long-term trends.

Volunteers must be carefully trained and tested and have clear data sheets and instructions. The data must be checked for accuracy the day it is collected and before it is entered in a database. It must be consolidated regularly so that it is not lost. All the methods must be repeatable and consistent.

PBI’s other citizen scientist projects include: monitoring western gray squirrels and their response to wildfires and monitoring wildlife in the wildlands of South America.

Keywords: Citizen Science, volunteers, validity of data, experimental design

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Citizen Science Data: Relevant, Rigourous and Valid

2016SSEC

Citizen Science can be an ideal way of collecting large amounts of data over a large area for extended periods of time that few projects depending on staff scientists can afford. However, adequate training is necessary and rigorous methods must be adhered to. Pacific Biodiversity Institute has used citizen scientists to collect land-based observations on the presence of harbor porpoises in Burrows Pass, Fidalgo Island, Washington since 2009. These observations are a completely independent metric that complements our underwater acoustic data recording the presence of the porpoise 24 hours a day through the entire year in the same location. There is strong agreement between the citizen-science data and the acoustic data over a four year interval. This agreement validates both sets of data. PBI has similar work going at other locations in the Salish Sea.

We have developed guidelines for creating a citizen science project that assures strong, scientifically credible data. To be valid, a project must have a good experimental design and a robust protocol for collecting quantified data with a defined unit of effort. The methods must be repeatable and consistent. The protocol must be robust enough to be applied years later with other observers and to give data that can be compared to previous data to assess long-term trends.

Volunteers must be carefully trained and tested and have clear data sheets and instructions. The data must be checked for accuracy the day it is collected and before it is entered in a database. It must be consolidated regularly so that it is not lost. All the methods must be repeatable and consistent.

PBI’s other citizen scientist projects include: monitoring western gray squirrels and their response to wildfires and monitoring wildlife in the wildlands of South America.

Keywords: Citizen Science, volunteers, validity of data, experimental design