Proposed Abstract Title

Crab Team: Addressing an agency mandate with citizen science

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Tools and Strategies for Growing Citizen Science

Location

2016SSEC

Description

Citizen science approaches are an attractive option for projects that require large scale data collection. However not all large scale projects are necessarily suitable for citizen science. For instance, agency mandates to conduct environmental monitoring could benefit from the cost-effective approach of volunteer monitoring, but the project goals might not be suitable for, or attractive to, volunteers. A citizen science monitoring program to meet a WDFW mandate to monitor for invasive European green crab (Carcinus maenas) was designed by Washington Sea Grant with such balance in mind.

Meeting the directive to maximize detection probability for a species that might be rare, or might never be present, presents unique challenges for volunteer engagement and retention. How do we prepare volunteers to search for an organism which they have never seen in real life, and have no search image for, while maintaining a low probability of false negatives? How do we sustain their engagement with the project if, and/or when, the monitoring target is never detected? Moreover, how do we balance motivating volunteers about the urgency of the threat, with managing their expectations of agency intervention if the invasive does become established?

These questions will be explored as we discuss our approaches to the European green crab monitoring program. With thoughtful design, citizen science projects can be tailored to suit diverse scientific needs, expanding the engagement, educational, and community benefits of the projects.

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Crab Team: Addressing an agency mandate with citizen science

2016SSEC

Citizen science approaches are an attractive option for projects that require large scale data collection. However not all large scale projects are necessarily suitable for citizen science. For instance, agency mandates to conduct environmental monitoring could benefit from the cost-effective approach of volunteer monitoring, but the project goals might not be suitable for, or attractive to, volunteers. A citizen science monitoring program to meet a WDFW mandate to monitor for invasive European green crab (Carcinus maenas) was designed by Washington Sea Grant with such balance in mind.

Meeting the directive to maximize detection probability for a species that might be rare, or might never be present, presents unique challenges for volunteer engagement and retention. How do we prepare volunteers to search for an organism which they have never seen in real life, and have no search image for, while maintaining a low probability of false negatives? How do we sustain their engagement with the project if, and/or when, the monitoring target is never detected? Moreover, how do we balance motivating volunteers about the urgency of the threat, with managing their expectations of agency intervention if the invasive does become established?

These questions will be explored as we discuss our approaches to the European green crab monitoring program. With thoughtful design, citizen science projects can be tailored to suit diverse scientific needs, expanding the engagement, educational, and community benefits of the projects.