Navigation Links
Climate change science aided by huge but 'invisible' efforts of amateurs
Date:9/3/2014

Ithaca, N.Y. Hundreds of thousands of volunteer data collectors are due for some thanks from scientists, according to a new paper that reveals the role of citizen science in studies of birds and climate change. Data collected by amateurs underpins up to 77 percent of the studies in this field, but that fact is largely invisible by the time the research appears in journals, according to a study published today in the open-access journal PLOS ONE:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0106508

"Our paper is a chance to say thank you to the many people who are citizen scientists," said lead author Caren Cooper, a research associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "These people are part of the process of creating new knowledgeand whether it's counting birds or butterflies, gazelles or galaxies, they should know that their observations really make a difference in professional science."

Birds make excellent subjects for citizen-science projectsthe term for studies that depend on members of the public for data gathering. That's in part because the great popularity of bird watching offers a ready pool of skilled observers. Some well-known North American projects are the Christmas Bird Count, eBird, and the Great Backyard Bird Count, as well as activities such as bird-banding stations and breeding bird atlases. But citizen science is not limited to birdshundreds of other projects cover bugs, trees, flowers, mammals, and microbes, as well as topics like water quality, air pollution, and astronomy.

Citizen science provides scientists with continent- or globe-spanning observations, often over periods so long that they outlast the careers of individual researchers. (The Christmas Bird Count has been running continuously since 1900.) For many types of data, there's simply no other way to collect it at such a scale than with volunteers.

So how well does that dependence on volunteers come through in scientific papers? As a springboard for their study, Cooper and her colleagues analyzed the bibliography of a recent review on the effects of climate change on migratory birds. For each of the 173 primary studies cited in the review, Cooper and her colleagues tracked down the sources of data used.

Neither the review itself nor any of the cited papers used the term "citizen science"a term coined in 1995and only 37 papers used the word "volunteer." Yet between 24 percent and 77 percent of the papers supporting each claim drew primarily on volunteer data. Citizen science proved especially important for documenting the patterns and consequences of climate change, such as population declines and changes in migration timing.

Cooper says that it's not as if scientists are downplaying the role of citizen sciencein some cases, scientists use large data repositories and may be unaware that citizen science was involved. In the majority of cases, scientists simply don't use a standardized term to refer to citizen science. The result is that the product of all that volunteer effort is invisible in the literature, despite having played an integral part in analyses.

"I'd like to see this information coming full circle. In the world today we tend to have notions about expertise, and that only professionals have it," Cooper said, noting that this idea can keep people from feeling they have anything to contribute to the scientific process. "But people who have been doing a hobby for years have tons of expertise, and they can make a very real contribution."

"It would be so cool for people to start to identify with the term citizen science, instead of thinking 'I'm a bird watcher,' or 'I measure water quality,'" Cooper said. "People might realize they have a lot of kindred spirits out there."


'/>"/>

Contact: Pat Leonard
pel27@cornell.edu
607-254-2137
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Changing global diets is vital to reducing climate change
2. Museum specimens, modern cities show how an insect pest will respond to climate change
3. Viruses take down massive algal blooms, with big implications for climate
4. Waterloo makes public most complete Antarctic map for climate research
5. Climate change will threaten fish by drying out Southwest US streams, study predicts
6. The double threat of climate and land use change enhances risks to biodiversity
7. Oregon team to study impacts of climate change on pesky forest insect
8. No one-size-fits-all approach in a changing climate, changing land
9. Butterflies evolutionary responses to warmer temperatures may compromise their ability to adapt to future climate change
10. New analysis links tree height to climate
11. EARTH Magazine: La Brea climate adaptation as different as cats and dogs
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 No two people are ... the New York University Tandon School of Engineering ... found that partial similarities between prints are common ... mobile phones and other electronic devices can be ... vulnerability lies in the fact that fingerprint-based authentication ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... -- Today HYPR Corp. , leading innovator in ... the HYPR platform is officially FIDO® Certified . ... that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune 500 enterprises and ... 15 million users across the financial services industry, however ... suites and physical access represent a growing portion of ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... 30, 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, Sequencing.com will ... hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in ... focus on developing health and wellness apps that provide ... the Genome is the first hackathon for personal ... largest companies in the genomics, tech and health industries ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... Irvine, ca (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 ... ... for the Surgical Wound Market with the addition of its newest module, US ... the $1.2B market for thrombin hemostats, absorbable hemostats, fibrin sealants, synthetic sealants and ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... The CRISPR-Cas9 ... enabling overexpression experiments and avoiding the use of exogenous expression plasmids. The simplicity ... for performing systematic gain-of-function studies. , This complement to loss-of-function studies, such ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... 2017  VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider of patient support ... Nurse Educator (CNE) network, which will launch this week. The ... health care professionals to enhance the patient care experience by ... other health care professionals to help women who have been ... ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Singh Biotechnology today announced that the ... its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3) B VHH13 single ... the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and inhibit its function. Dysregulation of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: