OPS 2-1 - Engaging students in citizen science and biodiversity

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Exhibit Hall, Oregon Convention Center
Sarah E. Whipple, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Colorado State University Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Fort Collins, CO, Kenneth Choi, University of Hawaii and Pacifica (Kitrea) Takata-Glushkoff, Bowdoin College

Citizen science is research completed as a collaboration between the scientific community and members of the public, which creates a data network that can be used for various research and policy purposes. A BioBlitz affiliated with the United States National Park Service (NPS) is conducted as a 24-hour species identification event, where citizen science is utilized to learn about the biodiversity of an area. Under these NPS BioBlitz engagement initiatives, research on pollinator interactions within different ecosystems was undertaken at Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico in 2016 to help answer how pollinator biodiversity is trending inside the NPS as a result of climate change? In addition to this question, the nationwide BioBlitz in 2016 focused on increasing public participation in NPS while gaining credible data.


In order to achieve accurate, research-grade observations through iNaturalist (a citizen science mobile application used for data collection and identification), pollinators were caught, photographed, and uploaded to a “Bandelier BioBlitz” project in iNaturalist. These methods were distributed amongst public inventories. After the BioBlitz, students helped Bandelier with the classification of pollinators found. The final species count for the student team was 192 observations uploaded and 92 species identified, with 42% of these observations being labeled as accurately identified pollinators. For the official Bandelier project, there were over 900 observations uploaded and 369 species identified over the 24-hour period. Students from the team will complete post-participation surveys relating to their experience at the BioBlitz and how they think citizen science projects led by student teams could be improved. These findings, in addition to post-processed BioBlitz citizen data from NPS, will be analyzed and discussed.

As “citizen science stewards” for the Bandelier National Monument BioBlitz, students worked on:

  1. developing field guides for iNaturalist ,

  2. preparing data collection protocols for student and public teams, and

  3. leading public inventories that focused on data accuracy.

We will evaluate the outcomes of the students’ work and their overall contribution to the citizen science within the BioBlitz program.