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Patterns of contribution to citizen science biodiversity projects increase understanding of volunteers' recording behaviour

Boakes, EH; Gliozzo, G; Seymour, V; Harvey, M; Smith, C; Roy, DB; Haklay, M; (2016) Patterns of contribution to citizen science biodiversity projects increase understanding of volunteers' recording behaviour. Scientific Reports , 6 , Article 33051. 10.1038/srep33051. Green open access

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Abstract

The often opportunistic nature of biological recording via citizen science leads to taxonomic, spatial and temporal biases which add uncertainty to biodiversity estimates. However, such biases may also give valuable insight into volunteers’ recording behaviour. Using Greater London as a case-study we examined the composition of three citizen science datasets – from Greenspace Information for Greater London CIC, iSpot and iRecord - with respect to recorder contribution and spatial and taxonomic biases, i.e. when, where and what volunteers record. We found most volunteers contributed few records and were active for just one day. Each dataset had its own taxonomic and spatial signature suggesting that volunteers’ personal recording preferences may attract them towards particular schemes. There were also patterns across datasets: species’ abundance and ease of identification were positively associated with number of records, as was plant height. We found clear hotspots of recording activity, the 10 most popular sites containing open water. We note that biases are accrued as part of the recording process (e.g. species’ detectability) as well as from volunteer preferences. An increased understanding of volunteer behaviour gained from analysing the composition of records could thus enhance the fit between volunteers’ interests and the needs of scientific projects.

Type: Article
Title: Patterns of contribution to citizen science biodiversity projects increase understanding of volunteers' recording behaviour
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/srep33051
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep33051
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2016. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Science & Technology, Multidisciplinary Sciences, Science & Technology - Other Topics, BIOLOGICAL RECORDS, ASSOCIATIONS, BENEFITS, TOOL
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Dept of Geography
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1515887
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