[Taxacom] Citizen Science

JF Mate aphodiinaemate at gmail.com
Fri Oct 24 07:54:24 CDT 2014


Continuing Stephen and  thread on Darren Ward and Citizen Science. I
am attaching an excerpt of his abstract:

Darren Ward (excerpt from abstract of the article):

“Over the course of 1 year 25 members contributed 360 records from 186
taxa, including the discovery of several introduced species new to New
Zealand. There was a strong geographical bias to the records, with the
majority being based around the major cities. Aculeates (stinging
wasps) were significantly over-represented in the NatureWatch records.
Only half (55 %) of taxa were identified to species level, with a
further 28 % at genus level, and 17 % identified above genus level
(family, order). Furthermore, the majority (65 %) of taxa were
recorded only once, and only a few taxa were recorded [5 times (top
records were ‘‘Ichneumonidae’’, ‘‘Hymenoptera’’, Anthidium manicatum,
and Apis mellifera). It is probable that these same biases also exist
for many other taxonomic groups in projects operated by citizen
scientists lacking set protocols. Caution should be exercised on the
subsequent use, compilation, and analysis of citizen science,
especially without prior examination of records and potential biases.”


(Stephen´s opinion crudely cut and pasted here) “I interpret this to
have been a deliberate attempt to reinforce to the professional
community the (false) idea that such "citizen science" projects aren't
worth bothering with.”


Seriously, what is the problem with what Mr Ward is saying? If you
check any of the sites mentioned in Taxacom you will discover that
what he is saying is true! This is not a criticism of nature lovers,
it is a human condition: we love butterflies and colourful things and
dislike small creepy-crawlies. Why would you expect different from the
subset of nature macrophotographers?

Jason



On 24 October 2014 09:17, Alastair   Culham <a.culham at reading.ac.uk> wrote:
> For the past year we've been running a citizen science project to survey powdery mildew species around the UK in a joint project with the Royal Horticultural Society - http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/crg/powdery-mildew-survey/
>
> This has resulted in a data set of around 200 samples in the trial year including 59 different PM species http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/whiteknightsbiodiversity/campus-species-lists/fungi/powdery-mildew-2014/.  We are hoping for over 1000 samples next season.
>
> Samples are identified using a combination of morphological and molecular techniques by a research council funded PhD student and the results are emailed back to the sample providers as well as posted on our blogs.  Engaging the UK public in this scheme has allowed a more widespread sampling and allows the student doing the work to focus on lab work rather than chasing around the UK for samples.
>
> The challenge has been to keep the survey in people's minds so that we get samples sent on a regular basis throughout the long mildew season.  This is a non-trivial job and requires a lot of forward planning.
>
> Ours is a small CS scheme compared with large scale monitoring of the UK flora by the BSBI which has a network of local (usually highly expert) regional recorders and a further network of taxonomic experts to back them up.  The common feature of effective CS schemes is that there is an ongoing investment in management of them and close monitoring of data quality.
>
> CS can be highly effective and can be a very cost effective way of gathering data if the scheme is run well.  All science risks a rubbish in, rubbish out scenario and CS is just as sensitive to this as any other science is.
>
> Alastair
> ____________________________________________
>
> Dr Alastair Culham
> Centre for Plant Diversity and Systematics
> Harborne Building, School of Biological Sciences
> University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AS
> U.K.
>
> Associate Professor of Botany
> Curator, Reading University Herbarium (RNG)
> ____________________________________________
>
> ________________________________________
> From: Taxacom [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] on behalf of Stephen Thorpe [stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz]
> Sent: 23 October 2014 21:35
> To: KenWalker; John Grehan
> Cc: Taxacom
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia aldabrae
>
> Ken may be a little bit oversensitive, given that he probably has to constantly battle the indifference to (and sometimes obstruction of) citizen science, by entomologist colleagues. In my view, biodiversity recording sites like Project Noah, iSpot, iNaturalist, BowerBird, NatureWatch NZ, etc. are not actually all that useful *as initially conceived* (photos in the field of live organisms), but can evolve into something far more useful. I agree that there is not much point in thousands of records of monarch butterflies, and no little brown micro moths. For some idea of my vision for these biodiversity recording sites, I invite you to browse my own 2489 contributions to NatureWatch NZ, here: http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/stho002
>
> Stephen
>
> --------------------------------------------
> On Fri, 24/10/14, John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia aldabrae
>  To: "Walker, Ken" <kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au>
>  Cc: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>  Received: Friday, 24 October, 2014, 2:51 AM
>
>  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
>
>  On Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 9:04 PM, Walker, Ken <kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au>
>  wrote:
>
>  > Hi Jason,
>  >
>  > I totally disagree with your assessment of citizen
>  science being on the
>  > decline and that the efforts of citizen science can be
>  dismissed as " are
>  > taking pictures of "bugs": bigger, smaller, red, blue
>  or yellow."
>  >
>  > Here is Australia, we have a citizen science website
>  called BowerBird
>  > which is a socially interactive website somewhat like
>  the northern
>  > hemisphere equivalents of Project Noah, iNaturalist and
>  iSpot.  For me, the
>  > quality of a citizen science website is whether or not
>  the data it
>  > generates is on-shared with national or international
>  biodiversity
>  > databases.
>  >
>  > Let me give you one BowerBird example that came in this
>  month.  A citizen
>  > science person submitted an image of a
>  ladybeetle.  He had tried to
>  > identify it himself but could not place the
>  species.  In Australia, we have
>  > a wonderful CSIRO website displaying all known extant
>  Australian ladybeetle
>  > species.  The BowerBird image did not match any of
>  the images on the
>  > diagnostic website.  So, we sent the image to the
>  BMNH ladybeetle expert
>  > who came back with the statement "Back from the
>  Dead".  The species
>  > photographed was presumed to be extinct as it had not
>  been seen or recorded
>  > since 1940.  The story of this citizen science
>  find was told in one of our
>  > national newspapers:
>  > http://www.theage.com.au/technology/sci-tech/extinct-ladybird-back-from-the-dead-20141014-115u4j.html
>  > (where you can see an image of the beetle).
>  >
>  > To me, the essence of science is to observe and ask
>  questions.  What
>  > better way is there than to have thousands of "natural
>  history amateur
>  > eyes" documenting spatial and temporal data for the
>  Australian (swap
>  > Australia for any other country) biota.  BowerBird
>  has discovered new
>  > species and helped to track invasive species.  The
>  exotic carder bee
>  > (Afranthidium (Immanthidium) repetitum) was first
>  reported in Brisbane in
>  > 2000.  By 2007, it had been recorded  south
>  in Sydney but since the Sydney
>  > records no further distribution extensions had been
>  recorded.  Then in
>  > February and March 2014, two amateurs noticed a
>  "strange bee" in their
>  > garden.  They photographed their strange bee and
>  posted the images on
>  > BowerBird with the question "Bee ID?".  We bee
>  "experts" immediately
>  > recognised it as the South African carder bee and the
>  records came from
>  > hundreds of kilometres north of Brisbane and hundreds
>  south of Sydney - on
>  > the state of Victoria's border.  Australia has
>  many exotic "sleeper weeds"
>  > but they remain in small numbers as they lack their
>  effective pollinator.
>  > The spread of any exotic pollinator needs to be
>  monitored and watched for a
>  > possible explosion of a sleeper weed. It was citizen
>  science who alerted us
>  > to this alarming spread.
>  >
>  > BowerBird "favourites" are often created by an "expert"
>  mentoring "natural
>  > history amateur eyes" .  One such case is the
>  humble but extraordinary life
>  > styled and bizarrely coloured flatworms.
>  Australia has only one flatworm
>  > expert located in north Queensland.  However, he
>  has inspired many
>  > BowerBird members from around Australia to roll back
>  logs in search of
>  > these flatworms.  The expert identifies each
>  flatworm image posted to
>  > BowerBird but he adds stories about how the scientific
>  name was derived and
>  > about the species behaviour.  There are now almost
>  50 BowerBird members on
>  > the Flatworm project who have image captured many of
>  Australia's flatworm
>  > species.  The expert has told me that for many
>  species, the BowerBird
>  > images were his first live images for many species - he
>  usually sees them
>  > as pickled individuals.  The expert has also
>  requested and been able to get
>  > these amateurs to collect and send him specimens for
>  DNA analysis.  If you
>  > have never seen a flatworm or want to read something
>  about them, then I
>  > recommend the flatworm project:
>  > http://www.bowerbird.org.au/projects/1633/sightings
>  >
>  > Finally, the Australian GBIF node is ALA (Atlas of
>  Living Australia).
>  > BowerBird went live in May 2013 and there are automatic
>  weekly data
>  > (images. Identifications, spatrila/temporal etc)
>  uploads to ALA.
>  > Currently, there are almost 11,000 BowerBird records on
>  ALA (to see the
>  > spread of records from around Australia see:
>  > http://biocache.ala.org.au/occurrences/search?q=data_resource_uid:dr893#tab_mapView
>  > ).  This represents about a 60% identification
>  success rate for images that
>  > you describe as "pictures of "bugs": bigger, smaller,
>  red, blue or yellow."
>  >
>  > New species have been nominated, new distributions have
>  been recorded, new
>  > stories have been told about the Australian fauna, new
>  friendships have
>  > been made and these new "friends" now go out together
>  on their own
>  > photographic BioBlitzes and on-share their finds to
>  BowerBird to ALA to
>  > GBIF.  I'm happy with this deal !!
>  >
>  > I am sure these stories here can be repeated for
>  Project Noah, iNaturalist
>  > and iSpot.
>  >
>  > For me, citizen science is on the up not the
>  decline.  Getting
>  > "professional" scientists to engage with this "new"
>  data source is the next
>  > "challenge".
>  >
>  > Best  Ken
>  >
>  > -----Original Message-----
>  > From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu]
>  On Behalf Of JF
>  > Mate
>  > Sent: Thursday, 23 October 2014 2:14 AM
>  > To: Taxacom
>  > Subject: Re: [Taxacom] De-extinction & Rhachistia
>  aldabrae
>  >
>  > Hi Bob,
>  >
>  > I agree the scale is altogether different but even in
>  densely populated
>  > areas in Australia even basic invertebrate biodiversity
>  knowledge is
>  > lacking. 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. If you
>  > don´t know what you are photographing then it is like
>  it doesn´t exist. For
>  > Europe (with some exceptions) the decline may not be as
>  damaging. The fauna
>  > is well known and there are plenty of guides and keys
>  that digital
>  > enthusiasts could use. The goal here has at least been
>  partially achieved.
>  > In Australia, other than butterflies and a couple of
>  other popular groups
>  > you are out of luck.
>  >
>  > Cristian. Spain is in a similar (albeit not as extreme)
>  situation to
>  > Australia. High biodiversity, incomplete knowledge but
>  a declining body of
>  > amateurs (and legislation that doesn´t help either).
>  >
>  > Best
>  >
>  > Jason
>  >
>  >
>  >
>  >
>  >
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