Evaluating the Performance of Volunteers in Mapping Invasive Plants in Public Conservation Lands
- 631 Downloads
Citizen science programs are touted as useful tools for engaging the public in science and for collecting important data for scientists and resource managers. To accomplish the latter, it must be shown that data collected by volunteers is sufficiently accurate and reliable. We engaged 119 volunteers over three years to map and estimate abundance of invasive plants in New York and New Jersey parklands. We tested their accuracy via collected pressed samples and by subsampling their transect points. We also compared the performances of volunteers and botanical experts. Our results support the notion that volunteer participation can enhance the data generated by scientists alone. We found that the quality of data collected might be affected by the environment in which the data are collected. We suggest that giving consideration to how people learn can not only help to achieve educational goals but can also help to produce more data to be used in scientific study.
KeywordsCitizen science Invasive plants Training Volunteers Parklands Monitoring program
Funding was made possible through the USDA CSREES NRI # 05-2221 and all work was conducted in accordance to Institutional Review Board policy. We thank Ed Goodell and the people of the NY–NJ Trail Conference. Additionally, we thank Kristen Ross, David Mellor, and Edwin McGowan. We give a special thanks to our numerous volunteers.
- Bierele TC, Cayford J (2002) Democracy in practice: public participation in environmental decisions. RFF Press, Washington, DC, USA, p 148Google Scholar
- Bloniarz DV, Ryan HDP III (1996) The use of volunteer initiatives in conducting urban forest resource inventories. Journal of Arboricology 22:75–82Google Scholar
- Bonney R, Ballard H, Jordan R, McCallie E, Phillips T, Shirk J, Wilderman C (2009) Public participation in scientific research: defining the field and assessing its potential for informal science education. In: A CAISE inquiry group report center for advancement of informal science education. CAISE, Washington, DC. http://caise.insci.org/uploads/docs/PPSR%20report%20FINAL.pdf. Accessed 15 March 2010
- Brandon A, Spyreas G, Molano-Flores B, Carroll C, Ellis J (2003) Can volunteers provide reliable data for forest vegetation surveys? Natural Areas Journal 23:254–261Google Scholar
- Bransford JD, Brown A, Cocking R (eds) (1999) How people learn: brain, mind, experience, and school. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, USA, p 374Google Scholar
- Crall AW, Newman GL, Stohlgren TJ, Holfelder KA, Graham J, Waller DM (2011) Assessing citizen science data quality: an invasive species case study. Conservation Letters. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2011.00196.x
- Dunlap R (1992) Trends in public opinion toward environmental issues: 1965–1990. In: Dunlap R, Mertig A (eds) American environmentalism: the US environmental movement, 1970–1990. Taylor and Francis, Philadelphia, PA, USA, pp 89–116Google Scholar
- Jordan RC, Gray ST, Howe DV, Brooks WR, Ehrenfeld JG (2011) Conservation education and citizen science: using an invasive plant case study to highlight issues of practice. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011
- Krasny M, Bonney R (2005) Environmental education through citizen science and participatory action research. In: Johnson EA, Mappin MJ (eds) Environmental education or advocacy: perspectives of ecology and education in environmental education. Cambridge University Press, New York, USA, pp 292–319Google Scholar
- Luken JO (2003) Invasions of forests in the Eastern United States. In: Gilliam FS, Roberts MR (eds) The herbaceous layer in forests of Eastern North America. Oxford University Press, New York, USA, pp 283–301Google Scholar
- Marcinkowski T (1993) Assessment in environmental education. In: Wilke RJ (ed) Environmental education teacher resource handbook. Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA, pp 143–197Google Scholar