Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #333453

Research Project: Invasive Ant Biology and Control

Location: Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research

Title: Citizen science can improve conservation science, natural resource management, and environmental protection

Author
item Mckinley, Duncan - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item Miller-rushing, Abe - Us National Park Service
item Ballard, Heidi - University Of California
item Bonney, Rick - Cornell University - New York
item Brown, Hutch - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item Cook-patton, Susan - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item Evans, Daniel - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item French, Rebecca - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
item Parrish, Julia - University Of Washington
item Phillips, Tina - Cornell University - New York
item Ryan, Sean
item Shanley, Lea - University Of Wisconsin
item Shirk, Jennifer - Cornell University - New York
item Stepenuck, Kristine - University Of Wisconsin
item Weltzin, Jake - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item Wiggins, Andrea - University Of Maryland
item Boyle, Owen - Wisconsin Department Of Natural Resources
item Briggs, Russell - State University Of New York (SUNY)
item Chapin, Stuart - University Of Alaska
item Hewitt, David - Academy Of Natural Sciences
item Preuss, Peter - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
item Soukup, Michael - National Park Service

Submitted to: Biological Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/23/2016
Publication Date: 4/1/2017
Citation: Mckinley, D., Miller-Rushing, A.J., Ballard, H., Bonney, R., Brown, H., Cook-Patton, S.C., Evans, D.M., French, R.A., Parrish, J.K., Phillips, T.B., Ryan, S.F., Shanley, L.A., Shirk, J.L., Stepenuck, K.F., Weltzin, J.F., Wiggins, A., Boyle, O.D., Briggs, R.D., Chapin, S.F., Hewitt, D.A., Preuss, P.W., Soukup, M.A. 2017. Citizen science can improve conservation science, natural resource management, and environmental protection. Biological Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.05.015.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.05.015

Interpretive Summary: Citizen science has a long history of advancing scientific discoveries and within the last decade has seen a tremendous growth in its application. Here we review and explore the use of citizen science to specifically inform land management decisions and policies across the United States. A scientist at the Center for Medical, Agriculture, and Veterinary Entomology, USDA-ARS, Gainesville, Florida and Scientists at the USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, University of California Davis, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin Madison, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Wisconsin, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Maryland College Park, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, State University of New, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Academy of Natural Sciences, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that citizen science is already contributing substantially to many domains of science (conservation, natural resource, and environmental science), that there are many approaches to using citizen science and practitioners should determine the best approach for matching both the needs for science and public involvement, and that citizen science should be treated as conventional science in terms of how projects are designed, carried out, and evaluated. This work will provide an instructive resource for those interested in applying citizen science to research projects or programs with natural resource management and policy implications.

Technical Abstract: Citizen science has advanced science for hundreds of years, contributed to many peer-reviewed articles, and informed land management decisions and policies across the United States. Over the last 10 years, citizen science has grown immensely in the United States and many other countries. Here, we show how citizen science is a powerful tool for tackling many of the challenges faced in the field of conservation biology. We describe the two interwoven paths by which citizen science can improve conservation efforts, natural resource management, and environmental protection. The first path includes building scientific knowledge, while the other path involves informing policy and encouraging public action. We explore how citizen science is currently used and describe the investments needed to create a citizen science program. We find that: 1. Citizen science already contributes substantially to many domains of science, including conservation, natural resource, and environmental science. Citizen science informs natural resource management, environmental protection, and policymaking and fosters public input and engagement. 2. Many types of projects can benefit from citizen science, but one must be careful to match the needs for science and public involvement with the right type of citizen science project and the right method of public participation. 3. Citizen science is a rigorous process of scientific discovery, indistinguishable from conventional science apart from the participation of volunteers. When properly designed, carried out, and evaluated, citizen science can provide sound science, efficiently generate high-quality data, and help solve problems.