Evaluating promotional approaches for citizen science biological recording: bumblebees as a group versus Harmonia axyridis as a flagship for ladybirds
Over the past decade, the number of biological records submitted by members of the public have increased dramatically. However, this may result in reduced record quality, depending on how species are promoted in the media. Here we examined the two main promotional approaches for citizen science recording schemes: flagship-species, using one charismatic species as an umbrella for the entire group (here, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) for Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), and general-group, where the group is promoted as a whole and no particular prominence is given to any one species (here, bumblebees, genus Bombus (Hymenoptera: Apidae)). Of the two approaches, the general-group approach produced data that was not biased towards any one species, but far fewer records per year overall. In contrast, the flagship-species approach generated a much larger annual dataset, but heavily biased towards the flagship itself. Therefore, we recommend that the approach for species promotion is fitted to the result desired.
KeywordsBiological recording Citizen science Verification Bombus hypnorum Bumblebee Ladybird
We would like to thank all the volunteer recorders who have submitted the records that made this paper possible, and both David and Helen Roy of the Biological Records Centre who allowed us to use the ladybird dataset. We would also like to thank the many verifiers for both BeeWatch and the UK Ladybird Survey, and the technical support teams for both surveys at BRC and Aberdeen University.
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