The National Institute of Invasive Species Science has developed a national scale invasive species program for citizen scientists linked to a publicly available cyberinfrastructure. Development of the program was directed by a national survey of citizen science organizations currently collecting data on invasive species to ensure it meets users’ needs and will be self-sustaining over time.
The products of the program include: (1) A citizen science website that consolidates data on invasive species across regions; (2) Customizable online data entry forms and Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) programs that allow its users to rapidly collect and quickly disseminate invasive species data at local, regional, and national scales; (3) An invasive plant monitoring protocol for citizen scientists with an accompanying quality assurance/quality control procedure; and (4) Online tutorials that teach citizen scientists how to use these online resources. Evaluation by its initial end users has proved initial success of the program and the tools that have been developed. As the program continues to grow, evaluation will continue to ensure the capability of the system to train citizen scientists to collect and publicly disseminate high quality invasive species data. By providing citizen scientists with these resources, land managers and research scientists may be better equipped to determine the present locations of these species, respond to new invasions, and predict their spread.