Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing

Marine Citizen Science: Current State in Europe and New Technological Developments

Garcia-Soto C, Seys JJC, Zielinski O, Busch JA, Luna SI, Baez JCarlos, Domegan C, Dubsky K, Kotynska-Zielinska I, Loubat P, et al. Marine Citizen Science: Current State in Europe and New Technological Developments. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2021 ;8. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2021.621472/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1599332_45_Marine_20210413_arts_A
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Marine citizen science is emerging with promising opportunities for science, policy and public but there is still no comprehensive overview of the current state in Europe. Based on 127 projects identified for the North Sea area we estimate there might be as much as 500 marine and coastal citizen science projects running in Europe, i.e., one marine citizen science project per ∼85 km of coastline, with an exponential growth since 1990. Beach-based projects are more accessible and hence most popular (60% of the projects), and the mean duration of the projects is 18–20 years. Current trends, topics, organizers, aims, and types of programme in terms of participation are presented in this overview. Progress in marine citizen science is specially enabled and promoted through technological developments. Recent technological advances and best practise examples are provided here, untapping the potential of smart mobile apps, do-it-yourself (DIY) technologies, drones, and artificial intelligence (AI) web services.

Environmental Awareness Gained During a Citizen Science Project in Touristic Resorts Is Maintained After 3 Years Since Participation

Meschini M, Prati F, Simoncini GA, Airi V, Caroselli E, Prada F, Marchini C, Toffolo MMachado, Branchini S, Brambilla V, et al. Environmental Awareness Gained During a Citizen Science Project in Touristic Resorts Is Maintained After 3 Years Since Participation. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2021 ;8. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2021.584644/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1585058_45_Marine_20210325_arts_A
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Tourism is one of the largest economic sectors in the world. It has a positive effect on the economy of many countries, but it can also lead to negative impacts on local ecosystems. Informal environmental education through Citizen Science (CS) projects can be effective in increasing citizen environmental knowledge and awareness in the short-term. A change of awareness could bring to a behavioral change in the long-term, making tourism more sustainable. However, the long-term effects of participating in CS projects are still unknown. This is the first follow-up study concerning the effects of participating in a CS project on cognitive and psychological aspects at the basis of pro-environmental behavior. An environmental education program was developed, between 2012 and 2013, in a resort in Marsa Alam, Egypt. The study directly evaluated, through paper questionnaires, the short-term (after 1 week or 10 days) retention of knowledge and awareness of volunteers that had participated in the activities proposed by the program. After three years, participants were re-contacted via email to fill in the same questionnaire as in the short-term study, plus a new section with psychological variables. 40.5% of the re-contacted participants completed the follow-up questionnaires with a final sample size of fifty-five people for this study. Notwithstanding the limited sample size, positive trends in volunteer awareness, personal satisfaction regarding the CS project, and motivation to engage in pro-environmental behavior in the long-term were observed.

Accuracy and precision of citizen scientist animal counts from drone imagery

Wood SA, Robinson PW, Costa DP, Beltran RS. Accuracy and precision of citizen scientist animal counts from drone imagery Halliday WDavid. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2021 ;16(2):e0244040. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0244040
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Repeated counts of animal abundance can reveal changes in local ecosystem health and inform conservation strategies. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones, are commonly used to photograph animals in remote locations; however, counting animals in images is a laborious task. Crowd-sourcing can reduce the time required to conduct these censuses considerably, but must first be validated against expert counts to measure sources of error. Our objectives were to assess the accuracy and precision of citizen science counts and make recommendations for future citizen science projects. We uploaded drone imagery from Año Nuevo Island (California, USA) to a curated Zooniverse website that instructed citizen scientists to count seals and sea lions. Across 212 days, over 1,500 volunteers counted animals in 90,000 photographs. We quantified the error associated with several descriptive statistics to extract a single citizen science count per photograph from the 15 repeat counts and then compared the resulting citizen science counts to expert counts. Although proportional error was relatively low (9% for sea lions and 5% for seals during the breeding seasons) and improved with repeat sampling, the 12+ volunteers required to reduce error was prohibitively slow, taking on average 6 weeks to estimate animals from a single drone flight covering 25 acres, despite strong public outreach efforts. The single best algorithm was ‘Median without the lowest two values’, demonstrating that citizen scientists tended to under-estimate the number of animals present. Citizen scientists accurately counted adult seals, but accuracy was lower when sea lions were present during the summer and could be confused for seals. We underscore the importance of validation efforts and careful project design for researchers hoping to combine citizen science with imagery from drones, occupied aircraft, and/or remote cameras.

Conservation value of a subtropical reef in south-eastern Queensland, Australia, highlighted by citizen-science efforts

Grol MGG, Vercelloni J, Kenyon TM, Bayraktarov E, van den Berg CP, Harris D, Loder JA, Mihaljević M, Rowland PI, Roelfsema CM. Conservation value of a subtropical reef in south-eastern Queensland, Australia, highlighted by citizen-science efforts. Marine and Freshwater Research [Internet]. 2020 . Available from: https://www.publish.csiro.au/mf/MF19170
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Subtropical reefs are important habitats for many marine species and for tourism and recreation. Yet, subtropical reefs are understudied, and detailed habitat maps are seldom available. Citizen science can help fill this gap, while fostering community engagement and education. In this study, 44 trained volunteers conducted an ecological assessment of subtropical Flinders Reef using established Reef Check and CoralWatch protocols. In 2017, 10 sites were monitored to provide comprehensive information on reef communities and to estimate potential local drivers of coral community structure. A detailed habitat map was produced by integrating underwater photos, depth measurements, wave-exposure modelling and satellite imagery. Surveys showed that coral cover ranged from 14% to 67%. Site location and wave exposure explained 47% and 16% respectively, of the variability in coral community composition. Butterflyfishes were the most abundant fish group, with few invertebrates being observed during the surveys. Reef impacts were three times lower than on other nearby subtropical reefs. These findings can be used to provide local information to spatial management and Marine Park planning. To increase the conservation benefits and to maintain the health of Flinders Reef, we recommend expanding the current protection zone from 500- to a 1000-m radius.

Citizen science for predicting spatio-temporal patterns in seabird abundance during migration

Martín B, Onrubia A, González-Arias J, Vicente-Vírseda JA. Citizen science for predicting spatio-temporal patterns in seabird abundance during migration Paiva VHugo Rodri. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2020 ;15(8):e0236631. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0236631
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Pelagic seabirds are elusive species which are difficult to observe, thus determining their spatial distribution during the migration period is a difficult task. Here we undertook the first long-term study on the distribution of migrating shearwaters from data gathered within the framework of citizen science projects. Specifically, we collected daily abundance (only abundance given presence) of Balearic shearwaters from 2005 to 2017 from the online databases Trektellen and eBird. We applied machine-learning techniques, specifically Random Forest regression models, to predict shearwater abundance during migration using 15 environmental predictors. We built separated models for pre-breeding and post-breeding migration. When evaluated for the total data sample, the models explained more than 52% of the variation in shearwater abundance. The models also showed good ability to predict shearwater distributions for both migration periods (correlation between observed and predicted abundance was about 70%). However, relative variable importance and variation among the models built with different training data subsamples differed between migration periods. Our results showed that data gathered in citizen science initiatives together with recently available high-resolution satellite imagery, can be successfully applied to describe the migratory spatio-temporal patterns of seabird species accurately. We show that a predictive modelling approach may offer a powerful and cost-effective tool for the long-term monitoring of the migratory patterns in sensitive marine species, as well as to identify at sea areas relevant for their protection. Modelling approaches can also be essential tools to detect the impacts of climate and other global changes in this and other species within the range of the training data.

Conservation value of a subtropical reef in south-eastern Queensland, Australia, highlighted by citizen-science efforts

Grol MGG, Vercelloni J, Kenyon TM, Bayraktarov E, van den Berg CP, Harris D, Loder JA, Mihaljević M, Rowland PI, Roelfsema CM. Conservation value of a subtropical reef in south-eastern Queensland, Australia, highlighted by citizen-science efforts. Marine and Freshwater Research [Internet]. 2020 . Available from: https://www.publish.csiro.au/MF/MF19170
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Subtropical reefs are important habitats for many marine species and for tourism and recreation. Yet, subtropical reefs are understudied, and detailed habitat maps are seldom available. Citizen science can help fill this gap, while fostering community engagement and education. In this study, 44 trained volunteers conducted an ecological assessment of subtropical Flinders Reef using established Reef Check and CoralWatch protocols. In 2017, 10 sites were monitored to provide comprehensive information on reef communities and to estimate potential local drivers of coral community structure. A detailed habitat map was produced by integrating underwater photos, depth measurements, wave-exposure modelling and satellite imagery. Surveys showed that coral cover ranged from 14% to 67%. Site location and wave exposure explained 47% and 16% respectively, of the variability in coral community composition. Butterflyfishes were the most abundant fish group, with few invertebrates being observed during the surveys. Reef impacts were three times lower than on other nearby subtropical reefs. These findings can be used to provide local information to spatial management and Marine Park planning. To increase the conservation benefits and to maintain the health of Flinders Reef, we recommend expanding the current protection zone from 500- to a 1000-m radius.

Citizen science data indicate a reduction in beach litter in the Lofoten archipelago in the Norwegian Sea

Haarr MLarsen, Pantalos M, Hartviksen MKleffelgå, Gressetvold M. Citizen science data indicate a reduction in beach litter in the Lofoten archipelago in the Norwegian Sea. Marine Pollution Bulletin [Internet]. 2020 ;153:111000. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X20301181
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Marine litter is a major global challenge, even in the remote reaches of the Arctic. Monitoring temporal trends in litter loadings and composition is key to designing effective preventative and mitigative measures, and to assess their impact. Few data are available, however, by which to do this in the Arctic region. Citizen science data organised by the local waste management company in the Lofoten archipelago in the Norwegian Sea is an exception to this. We analysed volunteer cleanup data (total weight and counts of select litter types, standardised to density per 100 m) from over 200 locations from 2011 to 2018. Results indicate a general decline in beach litter in the region, and particularly in litter types related to private use, such as beverage bottles. These declines are most likely the combined result of extensive cleanup activities and a considerable reduction in local litter inputs.

Filling the Gap of Data-Limited Fish Species in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea: A Contribution by Citizen Science

Spyridopoulou NAga, Langeneck , Bouziotis , Giovos , Kleitou , Kalogirou . Filling the Gap of Data-Limited Fish Species in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea: A Contribution by Citizen Science. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering [Internet]. 2020 ;8(2):107. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/8/2/107
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

The biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea is rapidly changing due to anthropogenic activity and the recent increase of seawater temperature. Citizen science is escalating as an important contributor in the inventory of rare and data-limited species. In this study, we present several records of five data-limited native fish species from the eastern Mediterranean Sea: Alectis alexandrina(Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817), Ranzania laevis (Pennant, 1776), Dalatias licha (Bonnaterre, 1788), Lophotus lacepede (Giorna, 1809), and Sudis hyalina (Rafinesque, 1810). All of the records were collected by a participatory process involving fishers and validated by associated taxonomic experts of the citizen science programme “Is it Alien to you? Share it!!!”. This study fills an important gap for the distribution of the reported species and signifies the important role of citizen participation as a tool for extending marine biodiversity knowledge and fisheries management in an area with several gaps of knowledge on targeted and non-targeted species.

A nationwide assessment of litter on China's beaches using citizen science data

Chen H, Wang S, Guo H, Lin H, Zhang Y. A nationwide assessment of litter on China's beaches using citizen science data. Environmental Pollution [Internet]. In Press :113756. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749119337145
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $35.95
Type: Journal Article

China is the largest plastic consumer in the world. Despite its plastic waste import ban in 2017, this populous economy inevitably generates a large amount of waste, including plastic waste, a considerable part of which has become marine litter. Data from the 2018 National Coastal Cleanup and Monitoring Project, the largest beach litter monitoring activities using the citizen science approach in China, have been retrieved and analyzed to understand spatial patterns, composition, and original usage of marine litter. Within this project, 24 beaches were surveyed every two months. As a result, the mean density was 3.85 ± 5.39 items m−2, much higher than that reported by previous studies in China. There were great differences in the spatial distribution of litter. The highest densities appeared in the runoff-affected area of the Yangtze River, which was another difference from previous studies. Low-density, easy-to-transport foamed plastics were the major contributor to marine litter in these areas. Along China's coast, approximately 90% of litter was from land-based sources, and over half of that originated from domestic sources. Including foamed plastic products, plastic litter with low recycling value dominated. Both natural and human factors influencing the spatiotemporal distribution and composition of litter are discussed. Socioeconomic factors, such as the lifestyle and consumption levels of citizens and local waste management systems, are possible explanations for the low-value characteristic of marine litter. The deviation between previous data and citizen science data in this study may be caused by many factors. Based on the discussion on these factors, some suggestions for citizen science research in China are also put forward.

Monitoring through many eyes: Integrating disparate datasets to improve monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef

Peterson EE, Santos-Fernández E, Chen C, Clifford S, Vercelloni J, Pearse A, Brown R, Christensen B, James A, Anthony K, et al. Monitoring through many eyes: Integrating disparate datasets to improve monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental Modelling & Software [Internet]. In Press :104557. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364815219309582
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $19.95
Type: Journal Article

Numerous organisations collect data in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), but they are rarely analysed together due to different program objectives, methods, and data quality. We developed a weighted spatio-temporal Bayesian model and used it to integrate image-based hard-coral data collected by professional and citizen scientists, who captured and/or classified underwater images. We used the model to predict coral cover across the GBR with estimates of uncertainty; thus filling gaps in space and time where no data exist. Additional data increased the model's predictive ability by 43%, but did not affect model inferences about pressures (e.g. bleaching and cyclone damage). Thus, effective integration of professional and high-volume citizen data could enhance the capacity and cost-efficiency of monitoring programs. This general approach is equally viable for other variables collected in the marine environment or other ecosystems; opening up new opportunities to integrate data and provide pathways for community engagement/stewardship.

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