Citizen Science from Sea to Sky: Investigating Ecological Responses to Global Environmental Change
Wednesday, August 13, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
304/305, Sacramento Convention Center
Emily A. Cornelius
Dara A. Satterfield
Emily A. Cornelius
Understanding ecological responses to rapid environmental change is a crucial area of research, particularly as human population growth, urbanization, climate change and other land use changes escalate. However, investigating ecological responses to environmental changes can require vast amounts of data collection, often over large geographic areas and multiple time points, which can be challenging when funding and time are scarce. More and more, researchers are involving the public to measure ecological responses at broad, regional or national scales. Collaborating with citizen scientists has enabled ecologists to obtain samples from diverse and distant areas and to discover novel patterns in a variety of ecosystems, from sea to sky. Citizen scientists can be excellent collaborators to collect data on environmental change in particular, as they have the access to human-altered habitats that are of interest to ecologists studying global change. Importantly, citizen science can also facilitate the development of a more ecologically informed public, which will be central to the conservation priorities that ecological studies are identifying. Thus, citizen science projects on ecological responses to environmental change have the potential to advance both ecological knowledge and conservation, by nurturing a community of citizens invested in the scientific enterprise and the preservation of species and ecological interactions.
In coming years, the need for citizen science will likely rise due to tightening research budgets, and at the same time, the potential for citizen science efforts to inform ecological studies will increase as our world becomes more technologically connected. In light of these considerations, and the growing urgency to investigate consequences of global change, it is both timely and useful to pursue the goals of this Organized Oral Session which are to (a)feature how new citizen science data has revealed ecological patterns responding to environmental change in a diversity of ecosystems and (b) discuss effective approaches to recruit, train, engage and retain volunteers, in order to advance the potential of citizen science efforts in the future. Further, this Organized Oral Session may assist in establishing a cross-disciplinary network, where those interested in including citizen science into their own projects (students or early career researchers) or those who are attempting to manage previously collected citizen science data can share ideas and experiences.