[Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia aldabrae

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Fri Oct 24 06:53:27 CDT 2014

I for one am not interested in Wikispecies or any other Wki site. And I did
not 'rush to Research  Gate, although I did join as it was one more avenue
for access to papers and I don't happen to give a d....... about the site's
silly little ranking game (and I think quite a few other members feel that
way too). But I did construct my own independent website and it seems to
work quite well, and even though it does not have the same web search
priority as institutionally based sites or wiki, it usually shows up in
searches quite well and I do receive input from others out there.

John Grehan

On Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 7:52 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>

> I think that the reluctance of many professional scientists to engage with
> "citizen science" projects has a simple explanation. To be generous to
> them, it is because their time is limited and they get nothing out of it
> compared to other things that they could be doing instead (unless they get
> paid for "outreach", but that is a whole other can of worms). I used to
> wonder why few scientists were at all interested in creating and
> maintaining a page on Wikispecies, listing their publications. Isn't it
> good to advertise one's publications? But then I see that they all rush to
> sites like Mendeley and ResearchGate, for, I suggest, 2 reasons: (1) these
> are perceived (probably wrongly) as more "official" and "bona fide"; and
> (2) all visits to their page/publication get quantified, so they can get
> some "kudos" by having more visits than some of their peers, etc. I suspect
> though that ken is correct in that some of them really don't want to have
> their
>  identifications challenged by amateurs.
> Stephen
> --------------------------------------------
> On Fri, 24/10/14, Walker, Ken <kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au> wrote:
>  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia aldabrae
>  To: "John Grehan" <calabar.john at gmail.com>
>  Cc: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>  Received: Friday, 24 October, 2014, 12:15 PM
>  John,
>  Thanks for your question and I am not surprised that you see
>  no association between “"natural history amateurs” and
>  “citizen science”.  It is a typical scientific
>  response.
>  I recently read a definition of “citizen science” used
>  by the global biodiversity player “Earthwatch”.  It
>  read: “Citizen science is the structured research
>  undertaken as an active partnership between scientists and
>  the wider community”.
>  The world is awash with social media and yet many in the
>  scientific community believe that without the overriding
>  intervention of scientists to formulate structured research
>  projects, then the independent efforts by amateurs is not
>  real science.
>  One of the model project often quoted here in Australia as a
>  good example of “citizen science” is the “Great Koala
>  Count”.  A scientific institution has developed a
>  recording mobile phone/tablet app that “citizen
>  scientists” download and then walk around recording where
>  they see koalas.  It also records the absence of
>  records every 15 minutes.  The project runs over a 2
>  week period and has been repeated over a number of
>  years.  The scientists love it – amateurs spending
>  their time gathering distribution data about a single,
>  easily identifiable taxon.
>  However, some of the amateurs who have contributed to this
>  project have raised interesting issues.
>  1.    No one can ask a question on the app.
>  The scientists appear they are not willing to engage with
>  the public.
>  2.    The app itself does not deliver any results
>  of the survey.  Indeed, there is no link from the app
>  to the website where the results are delivered.
>  3.    The results website has simply reused an old
>  survey excel format as for every record it repeats the name
>  of the taxon recorded – A koala!
>  I define citizen science projects such as the “Great Koala
>  Count” as a “Top Down” project and it fits perfectly
>  with the definition of “citizen science” as used by
>  Earthwatch.  Personally, I prefer the “Bottom Up”
>  approach to “citizen science” where amateurs employ
>  serendipity to record and share data. I call this “adding
>  value to a hobby” and that’s my “working” definition
>  for “citizen science”.
>  Although there is now over 5 billion images on Facebook and
>  Flickr, most natural history images on these sites are
>  useless to science because: (1) They will rarely be
>  identified; (2) They do not provide the minimum Darwin Core
>  dataset of identification/spatial/temporal data; and (3) The
>  data is never on-shared with biodiversity databases (such as
>  ALA in OZ or globally GBIF).
>  However, when similar images are shared on “citizen
>  science” websites dedicated to natural science (Project
>  Noah, iNaturalist, iSpot, BowerBird etc) they impose the
>  Darwin Core standards by insisting a record contains
>  spatial/temporal data per record.  With such data,
>  observations using “macrophotography of "bugs": bigger,
>  smaller, red, blue or yellow" are indeed good “citizen
>  science” and do add value to biodiversity.
>  For me, the essence of science is making observations and
>  asking questions. In my previous Taxacom post, I gave
>  examples of serendipity leading to biosecurity action
>  (Carder bee) and the finding of a presumed extinct insect
>  (ladybeetle). In both these examples, the photographers
>  noticed something that looked unusual, took an image, asked
>  a question and shared their images on a “citizen
>  science” website. Both records definitely caught the
>  attention of scientists.  For interest, here is a link
>  to a distribution map on ALA for the exotic South African
>  carder bee (Afranthidium repetitum) showing the “citizen
>  science” records as the mostly northerly and most
>  southerly dots on the map (
> http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Afranthidium+repetitum
>  ).  Isn’t this a contribution to science?
>  But, it did not begin that way when two “natural history
>  amateurs” observed something and asked a question on a
>  social website that engages the public with
>  scientists.  When do ““natural history amateurs”
>  become “citizen science”?
>  Why do scientists have problems accepting the value of this
>  form of data recording?  Why are scientists hesitant to
>  use the most effective marketing tools currently on the
>  planet – social media?  I can tell you that dealing
>  directly with the general public is a lot more “scary”
>  than writing Taxacom posts.
>  To finish, I will relate a colleague’s reluctance to
>  engage with a socially interactive citizen science
>  website.  When I asked him for his assistance to
>  identify animals within his speciality and he works at a
>  publically funded institution, he refused because he said:
>  “I do not want any member of the public challenging my
>  identifications.”  How typical is this of the general
>  scientific community?
>  I hope I have answered your question: “This made no
>  reference to 'citizen science' and I did not see any
>  implication of such.”  Perhaps I live on planet X but
>  I do see a reference or an implication to “citizen
>  science” in Jason’s post.
>  Cheers Ken
>  From: John Grehan [mailto:calabar.john at gmail.com]
>  Sent: Friday, 24 October 2014 12:51 AM
>  To: Walker, Ken
>  Cc: JF Mate; Taxacom
>  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia
>  aldabrae
>  Ken,
>  Admittedly I only read postings in a fragmentary way and I
>  know I sometimes miss items, but I am confused by your
>  reference to Jason Mate saying the the efforts of citizen
>  science can be dismissed as " are taking pictures of "bugs":
>  bigger, smaller, red, blue or yellow." What I read was that
>  he said that "The decline in "natural history" amateurs is
>  global and cannot be compensated by the explosion of
>  macrophotography since they (mostly) are taking pictures of
>  "bugs": bigger, smaller, red, blue or yellow." This made no
>  reference to 'citizen science' and I did not see any
>  implication of such. It was only a criticism of a particular
>  mode of information gathering or sharing. I would be
>  grateful therefore for how you made that link the way you
>  did.
>  John Grehan
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