Event Title

How citizen science informs science, management, and volunteer objectives

Presentation Abstract

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.

Session Title

Tools and Strategies for Growing Citizen Science

Conference Track

Engagement

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2016 : Vancouver, B.C.)

Document Type

Event

Location

2016SSEC

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

Text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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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.