Navigation Links
Marine diversity study proves value of citizen science
Date:3/12/2013

Citizen science surveys compare well with traditional scientific methods when it comes to monitoring species biodiversity according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Research published today in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution shows that methods to record marine diversity used by amateurs returned results consistent with techniques favoured by peer-reviewed science.

The findings give weight to the growing phenomenon of citizen science, which sees data crowd-sourced from an army of avid twitchers, divers, walkers and other wildlife enthusiasts.

The field study compared methods used by 'citizen' SCUBA divers with those used by professional scientists, to measure the variety of fish species in three Caribbean sites.

The divers surveyed the sites using two methods the 'belt transect', used in peer reviewed fish diversity studies, and the 'roving diver technique', used by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) volunteer fish survey project.

Two teams of 12 divers made 144 separate underwater surveys across the sites over four weeks.

While the traditional scientific survey revealed sightings of 106 different types of fish, the volunteer technique detected greater marine diversity with a total of 137 in the same waters.

Dr Ben Holt, from UEA's school of Biology, led the research in partnership with the Centre for Marine Resource Studies in the Caribbean and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

He said: "The results of this study are important for the future of citizen science and the use of data collected by these programs. Allowing volunteers to use flexible and less standardised methods has important consequences for the long term success of citizen science programs. Amateur enthusiasts typically do not have the resources or training to use professional methodology. Our study demonstrates the quality of data collected using a volunteer method can match, and in some respects exceed, protocols used by professional scientists.

"Enlisting the help of a large pool of volunteers helps professional researchers collect valuable data across many ecosystems.

"The popularity of SCUBA diving has resulted in monitoring of the underwater environment on a scale that was previously impossible. For example, the REEF method has been used by volunteers in more than 160,000 underwater surveys across the world. It would have cost many millions of pounds for professionals to have undertaken the same work.

"Very few, if any, scientific groups can collect data on the scale that volunteer groups can, so our proof that both methods return consistent results is very encouraging for citizen science in general.

"I think we will really see the value of volunteer schemes increase in future. We're living in a world that's changing very significantly. Environmental changes are having a big impact on ecosystems around us so we need to harness new ways of measuring the effect.

"For example Lion fish is an invasive species which was not in the Caribbean until roughly 10 years ago. They have now become a real problem in many areas and this invasion has been tracked using volunteer data. Following our study, scientists can have more confidence when using these data to consider the impact of threats, such as invasive species, on the wider natural communities.

"It is important to note that our study does not consider the abilities of the individuals performing the surveys and this is also an important consideration for any large scale biodiversity program. By addressing these issues we can make important steps towards enabling the large pool of volunteer enthusiasts to help professional researchers by collecting valuable data across many ecosystems."

The research was carried out in under water sites close to South Caicos in the Turks and Caicos Islands.


'/>"/>
Contact: Lisa Horton
l.horton@uea.ac.uk
01-603-592-764
University of East Anglia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Increase in Arctic shipping poses risk to marine mammals
2. Marine Protected Areas are keeping turtles safe
3. Size matters: Large Marine Protected Areas work for dolphins
4. New iPad, iPhone app helps mariners avoid endangered right whales
5. First mass extinction linked to marine anoxia
6. Marine scientists urge government to reassess oil spill response
7. NOAA discovers way to detect low-level exposure to seafood toxin in marine animals
8. SeaSketch, the next generation of UCSBs MarineMap program, will aid marine spatial planning
9. ORNL protein analysis investigates marine worm community
10. Deep sea animals stowaway on submarines and reach new territory
11. DNA evidence shows that marine reserves help to sustain fisheries
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/22/2016)... ANGELES , June 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... identity management and verification solutions, has partnered ... edge software solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service ... provides products that add functional enhancements ... partnership provides corporations and venues with an ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... 16, 2016 The global ... to reach USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according ... Inc. Technological proliferation and increasing demand in commercial ... to drive the market growth.      ... The development of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric ...
(Date:6/7/2016)...  Syngrafii Inc. and San Antonio Credit Union ... integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ eSignature "Wet" solution into ... result in greater convenience for SACU members and ... existing document workflow and compliance requirements. ... Highlights: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 01, 2016 , ... Aerocom ... North American hospitals, will present its chain-of-custody solution for tracking and securing medications ... Vegas, Nev., Dec. 4-8, 2016. , Aerocom has a proven solution for tracking ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 02, 2016 , ... The ... to collaboratively developing improved chemistry, manufacturing and control technologies for the pharmaceutical ... with robust, probe-based sampling. , Online liquid chromatography analysis is becoming ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2016 , ... ... new moving magnet Voice Coil Actuator with a flexure design that ensures high ... life with cost-effective pricing and is ideally suited where extreme precision is required, ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... , Nov. 30, 2016  The Allen ... Cell Collection: the first publicly available collection of ... cells that target key cellular structures with unprecedented ... Research, these powerful tools are a crucial first ... to better understand what makes human cells healthy ...
Breaking Biology Technology: