[Taxacom] Citizen Science

Mike Sadka sadkamike at gmail.com
Sat Oct 25 08:31:12 CDT 2014


Ah Stephen!

You throw out such tempting bait...

But I've promised myself I am not rising again!

Cheerio, Mike

On Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 10:31 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
> wrote:

> 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
>  >
>  >
>  >  >
>  >
>  >
>  >  >
>  >
>  >
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