Citizen science is a very broad topic.
Wikipedia defines it as “scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur (or nonprofessional) scientists.”
The role of the general public can be simple, such as deploying gear for scientists, or a one-time response to a series of questions (a survey).
The role can also be very involved, such as in the collection, entry and validation of field data that are used by the scientist.
I have deployed both techniques.
My entire PhD thesis was devoted to understanding the value and limitations of using recreational scuba divers observations to describe spatial and temporal patterns of sharks and rays.
Since then, I’ve run numerous local, regional and global censuses.
I’ve used and deployed event-based surveys (e.g., where every dive is recorded) to describe:
- the absence of reef sharks throughout the Caribbean
- the decline of yellow stingrays throughout the Caribbean
- patterns of coastal sharks throughout Thailand
I’ve also conducted one-off surveys to describe:
- the value and limitations of diver contributed data
- the biases associated with scientific divers observations for mobile fish
- the population status and threats of global manta ray populations
- Shark Sanctuaries as a conservation strategy
These results have influenced policy and management, including: