Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Amateur divers share species data for science

Species observations from thousands of scuba divers all over the world are now freely accessible via the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

The citizen science platform Diveboard has published over 15,000 records from the 'electronic log books' submitted by its community of nearly 100,000 registered divers.

The dataset, available on the GBIF portal, includes records of species occurrences from dives in all the world's oceans, as well as many inland water bodies.

The data will be updated as divers contribute more species observations, using GBIF's new real-time indexing system in which new or modified data can be seen on the portal within minutes or hours of being entered by the data publisher. Diveboard is the first new dataset to be indexed using this system.
The idea for Diveboard originated from French divers Alexander Casassovici and Pascal Manchon, who wanted to design an electronic system to enable scuba divers to record details of their dives once they reached the surface.

"We were sad that we couldn't do much from our log books because we had the worst handwriting," Casassovici recalls. "The data in our log book was basically lost.

"We started to aggregate the data we were creating through the dive computer, taking pictures, and everything we recorded on the dive. We tried to narrow down the species we had seen in a given spot, and to build a tool that would crystallize the experience that scuba divers have underwater."

The Diveboard team hoped the project would build a bridge between casual recreational divers and marine biologists, providing data that could help researchers understand trends such as the impacts of climate change and spread of invasive alien species.

13 Nov 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Scuba app turns users into citizen scientists

Credit: Cecil Walker
Scuba divers explore vast underwater ecosystems and encounter all kinds of interesting things on their trips. Two Parisian divers, Alexander Casassovici and Pascal Manchon, wanted to create a database where other scuba fans could share photos, advice, etc. from their outings, so they rolled out Diveboard. It's a social networking app for scuba divers that operates on both iOS and Android platforms.

Diveboard began in 2011 as a simple interactive logbook for these adventurous folks, but it has quickly developed into something quite unexpected. Casassovici and Manchon rely on existing scientific databases to help users ID the diverse marine species they encounter on their dives. However, all of that information divers share on Diveboard is now helping scientists keep their information up-to-date.

05 Jul 2013
M Wollerton

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Citizen science contributes valuable information to conservation

Many people want to contribute to conservation efforts, but have not found a manner that is right for them.  For some, citizen science might be the answer.

Citizen science provides a way to make contributions without destroying your budget. In addition to contributing to the wealth of scientific data and information, participating in citizen-science projects might get you outdoors for fresh air and exercise.

Majoring in biology while in college, then never working as a biologist, left me with a void that often has been filled by citizen-science projects.

... There are many ways you can get involved in citizen science. For folks like myself who can't donate large or moderate sums of money, citizen science provides a way we can make contributions. Keep watching and you will probably find something that is a good fit for you.

Go Erie
M Bleech
24 Jun 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bat study seeks ‘citizen scientists’ - Can you Help?

The Maine Audubon Society is seeking volunteers from across the state to help it take stock of the health of the state’s bat colonies, which continue to be impacted by the deadly white nose syndrome.

Maine Audubon said that one of the sure signs of summer, seeing bats swooping to catch insects at dusk, is likely to become a rarer and rarer sight due to the disease, which has wiped out more than 5 million bats in the Northeast.

Now, the society is asking for the help of Maine residents to identify maternal bat colonies to help establish a baseline for breeding bats.

Sun Chronicle - Keep Me Current
19 Jun 2013
KI Collins

Monday, June 17, 2013

In frogs’ croaks, volunteer hears environment’s pulse

Half an hour past sunset in rural western Hennepin County, Madeleine Linck strains her ears. She’s listening, believe it or not, for the sounds of courtship. Frog courtship, that is.

Linck is helping with a state Department of Natural Resources survey gauging the presence of the state’s 14 frog and toad species. She’s listening for the male mating call.

... The survey started 19 years ago due to concerns worldwide that amphibian populations were in decline due to habitat destruction, disease and other factors. Results show the state’s frog and toad population is relatively stable with the exception of grey tree frogs and spring peepers, where the number of calls heard is down.

InForum News
14 Jun 2013
D Olson

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Citizen Science as a Novel Scientific Instrument

In the way that smart phones have permeated our culture, citizen science seems equally ubiquitous, appearing at science conferences, museums, conservation organizations, government agencies, journal articles, web sites and yes, in blogs. Citizen science covers a diverse collection of activities in which groups undertake investigations alongside or under the supervision of scientists....

Over the past decade I have been a local leader in monitoring Alewife populations, an anadromous fish, like shad and salmon, that return to fresh water to spawn, and a participant in protecting the rare Blanding’s turtle during nesting season.

Through my experiences, I’ve come to think that the citizens in citizen science are like a new kind of scientific instrument. This new instrument can make measurements that are not possible using the capacity and approaches of standard scientific enterprise. This new instrument can process large amounts of data relatively quickly. This is the difference between a scientist going out and doing all the work or enlisting the help of citizens to gather observations that are shared with the scientific community, be it one scientist or a whole organization. Citizens can allow a project to be sustained longer than what a traditional funding source can provide. Citizens can also cover a wider geographical range, where scientists will be limited by the scope of the their range, by the area that one person can humanly traverse.

PLoS Blog
12 Jun 2013
C Cooper

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to do a wildlife survey and be a citizen scientist

In the past, bird-watchers and bug-hunters have been frowned upon by academics for just looking at wildlife, rather than studying it in depth.

A naturalist - previously considered an expert - is now defined as "an amateur concerned more with observation than with experiment" by the Oxford English Dictionary.

But in the 21st Century, experts are realising the potential of simple observations to provide essential data to help conserve our wildlife.

Citizen science is making an impact.

The UK-Environmental Observation Framework has recently published a guide to citizen science, which it defines as the "volunteer collection of biodiversity and environmental information which contributes to expanding our knowledge of the natural environment".

This all makes it sound very serious but the key to citizen science is enthusiasm on a grand scale.

BBC Nature
30 May 2013