Marine invasive species: validation of citizen science and implications for national monitoring networks
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- Delaney, D.G., Sperling, C.D., Adams, C.S. et al. Biol Invasions (2008) 10: 117. doi:10.1007/s10530-007-9114-0
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Approximately 1,000 volunteers assessed the presence of invasive (Carcinus maenas and Hemigrapsus sanguineus) and native crabs within the intertidal zone of seven coastal states of the US, from New Jersey to Maine. Identification of crab species and determination of the gender of the observed crabs was documented at all 52 sites across a 725-km coastal transect. Using quantitative measures of accuracy of data collected by citizen scientists, a significant predictor of a volunteer’s ability was determined and eligibility criteria were set. Students in grade three and seven had the ability to differentiate between species of crabs with over 80% and 95% accuracy, respectively. Determination of gender of the crabs was more challenging and accuracy exceeded 80% for seventh grade students, while 95% accuracy was found for students with at least 2 years of university education. We used the data collected by citizen scientists to create a large-scale standardized database of the distribution and abundance of the native and invasive crabs. Hemigrapsus sanguineus dominated the rocky intertidal zone from Sandy Hook, New Jersey to Boston Harbor, Massachusetts while C. maenas dominated the northern extent of the sampled coastline. A citizen scientist of this monitoring network detected a range expansion of H. sanguineus. We identified obstacles to creating a national monitoring network and proposed recommendations that addressed these issues.