[Taxacom] Citizen Science

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri Oct 24 16:31:17 CDT 2014


It an issue of "reading between the lines" and the loading of neutral facts with negative spin. Also, Dr. Ward set the Hymenoptera project up only to shoot it down for not having associated protocols that he didn't set it up with! I just think that this is a nonsense paper. It concludes the blatantly obvious (i.e., that there are some geographical and taxonomic biases in "citizen science" data) from an analysis of a very limited dataset, and fails to consider how sites like NatureWatch NZ might evolve in such a way as to lessen these biases. One way would be more engagement from professional scientists, but Darren contributed no observations himself, so it all just seems to me to be a bit of a hatchet job.

Stephen

--------------------------------------------
On Sat, 25/10/14, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Citizen Science
 To: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Saturday, 25 October, 2014, 1:54 AM
 
 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
 > 
 >
 >  >
 > 
 >
 >  >
 > 
 >
 >  > This e-mail is solely for
 the named addressee and may
 >  be
 confidential. You
 >  > should only
 read, disclose, transmit, copy, distribute,
 >  act in reliance on
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 of this e-mail, please
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 >  by email immediately, or notify the
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 >  communication has
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 >  > maintained nor that it is
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 > 
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 >  >
 >  >
 >  >
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 >  >
 >  >
 Celebrating 27 years of Taxacom in 2014.
 >  >
 > 
 _______________________________________________
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 >  The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
 searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 >
 >  Celebrating 27
 years of Taxacom in 2014.
 >
 >
 _______________________________________________
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 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
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 > The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
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 >
 > Celebrating 27 years
 of Taxacom in 2014.
 >
 _______________________________________________
 > Taxacom Mailing List
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 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 > http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
 > The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
 searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 >
 > Celebrating 27 years
 of Taxacom in 2014.
 _______________________________________________
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 The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
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 Celebrating 27 years of
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