Citizen Science

Current Activity

 

Citizen science can broadly be defined as the involvement of volunteers in science.  BRC and the volunteer schemes have worked together to gather and analyse wildlife observations for 50 years providing evidence to underpin science, policy and practical conservation. During 2007, volunteer observers for biodiversity surveillance in the UK were estimated to contribute time in-kind worth more than £20 million. Combined with experience from other CEH-led citizen science environmental monitoring, CEH is becoming established as a leader in citizen science.

 

 

Key Outputs

 

A UK-Environmental Observation Framework project critically reviewed citizen science practice and highlighted lessons learnt, the requirements of data users, and also reviewed the potential benefits of new technologies. CEH acknowledged the importance of sharing good practice and produced a guide on the practical implementation of the review. More recently the “Choosing and Using Citizen Science” guide has been developed by CEH in collaboration with SEPA.

Conker tree science

Photo of scientist and children

Photo: Susie Pocock.

The Conker Tree Science project engaged over 8,000 people. People were invited to report the occurrence of the horse chestnut leafminer (Cameraria ohridella). The project enhanced understanding of the invasion dynamics of this moth, the associated parasitoids and the value of citizen science.

Guides to citizen science

Picture of the guides to citizen science

Picture: CEH.

‘Choosing and using citizen science’ and ‘Guide to citizen science’ are two documents produced from projects reviewing the breadth and utility of citizen science for environmental research and monitoring. Both recognize the value of citizen science as an approach for undertaking environmental studies and provide a critical framework for developing such initiatives.

 

Smartphone apps

Photo of mobile phone running ladybird app

Photo: Heather Lowther, CEH.

The development of a smartphone apps for recording ladybirds has enabled the UK Ladybird Survey to attract new recorders. More than 9,000 records have been submitted in its first year. The newly released iRecord Butterflies app received more than 4,000 records within a month of being available. Verification and validation methods within iRecord provide quality assurance and onwards flow of data.

 

Future Challenges

 

Data quality is often a major challenge for citizen science approaches.  To ensure the usefulness of data collected by volunteers, a variety of quality assurance methods are used. Automated checks, developed by schemes and societies, when coupled with expert verification play a critical role in ensuring the accuracy of biological records. iRecord provides an example of this approach.  Development of novel methods will undoubtedly encourage further interest in citizen science and help to recruit and train new generations of recorders.

 

 

 

References

690 Pergl Jan, Pysek P., Bacher S., Essl Franz, Genovesi Piero, Harrower Colin A, Hulme Philip E, Jeschke Jonathan M, Kenis Marc, Kuhn I., Perglova I., Rabitsch W., Roques A., Roy D. B., Roy Helen E., Vilà Montserrat, Winter M., Nentwig Wolfgang (2017) Troubling travellers: are ecologically harmful alien species associated with particular introduction pathways?. ,
731 Pearce-Higgins James W., Beale Colin M., Oliver Tom H., August T.A., Carroll Matthew, Massimino Dario, Ockendon Nancy, Savage Joanna, Wheatley Christopher J., Ausden Malcolm A., Bradbury Richard B., Duffield Simon J., Macgregor Nicholas A., McClean Colin J., Morecroft Michael D., Thomas Chris D., Watts Olly, Beckmann B, Fox Richard, Roy Helen E., Sutton Peter G., Walker Kevin J., Crick Humphrey Q.P. (2017) A national-scale assessment of climate change impacts on species: Assessing the balance of risks and opportunities for multiple taxa. ,
733 Sutton Peter G., Beckmann B, Nelson Brian (2017) The current status of Orthopteroid insects in Britain and Ireland. ,
RN275 Dennis Emily B, Morgan Byron JT, Brereton Tom M, Roy D. B., Fox Richard (2017) Using citizen science butterfly counts to predict species population trends. ,
RN287 Pergl Jan, Pyšek Petr, Bacher Sven, Essl Franz, Genovesi Piero, Harrower Colin A, Hulme Philip E, Jeschke Jonathan M, Kenis Marc, Kühn Ingolf (2017) Troubling travellers: are ecologically harmful alien species associated with particular introduction pathways?. ,
RN312 Roy H. E., Hesketh H., Purse B. V., Eilenberg J., Santini A., Scalera R., Stentiford G. D., Adriaens T., Bacela-Spychalska K., Bass D., Beckmann K. M., Bessell P., Bojko J., Booy O., Cardoso A. C., Essl F., Groom Q., Harrower Colin A, Kleespies R., Martinou A. F., van Oers M. M., Peeler E. J., Pergl J., Rabitsch W., Roques A., Schaffner F., Schindler S., Schmidt B. R., Schonrogge K., Smith J., Solarz W., Stewart A., Stroo A., Tricarico E., Turvey K. M. A., Vannini A., Vila M., Woodward S., Wynns A. A., Dunn A. M. (2017) Alien Pathogens on the Horizon: Opportunities for Predicting their Threat to Wildlife. ,
RN348 Pocock Michael J. O., Tweddle John C., Savage Joanna, Robinson Lucy D., Roy Helen E. (2017) The diversity and evolution of ecological and environmental citizen science. ,
RN374 Pocock Michael J. O., Roy Helen E., Fox Richard, Ellis Willem N., Botham M. S. (2017) Citizen science and invasive alien species: Predicting the detection of the oak processionary moth Thaumetopoea processionea by moth recorders. ,
RN375 Long Osgur McDermott, Warren Rachel, Price Jeff, Brereton Tom M., Botham M. S., Franco Aldina M. A. (2017) Sensitivity of UK butterflies to local climatic extremes: which life stages are most at risk?. ,
RN389 Dainese Matteo, Isaac Nick J. B., Powney Gary D., Bommarco Riccardo, Öckinger Erik, Kuussaari Mikko, Pöyry Juha, Benton Tim G., Gabriel Doreen, Hodgson Jenny A., Kunin William E., Lindborg Regina, Sait Steven M., Marini Lorenzo (2017) Landscape simplification weakens the association between terrestrial producer and consumer diversity in Europe. ,