Monitoring Biodiversity using Citizen Science

 

Data collected by members of the general public, called citizen scientists, can be valuable contributions to scientific research, wildlife management, conservation, and other fields. Citizen scientists enable data collection over a scale that would likely be an impossible for professional scientists to accomplish alone.

The goal of my research is to understand how citizen science data compares with data collected by professional scientists. I am accomplishing this through a collaboration with the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) using their recently-released app NatureLynx.

NatureLynx is a mobile app and website that facilitates the collection of natural history observations in Alberta. Participants can upload photos of any wild or naturalized species in Alberta, identifying the species in their photo or indicating that it is a new species to them. Taxonomic experts will then confirm the species identities in the photos.

ABMI monitors biodiversity in Alberta using trained technicians deployed to sampling locations across the province. I will compare the data collected by ABMI to that collected through NatureLynx. For example, with broad participation, citizen scientists could outnumber the trained technicians hired by ABMI and thus collect a lot of data across the province. However, there might be differences in where the data is collected; for example, ABMI can transport technicians by helicopter to remote sites but it’s likely that many citizen scientists will predominantly access public lands.

My goal is to understand how data collected by citizen scientists and professionals can compliment each other. This project will enable citizen scientists to be active participants in monitoring biodiversity in Alberta.

Download the NatureLynx app and begin your exploration of Alberta’s diverse species!