Title

Using Citizen Science to Bridge Taxonomic Discovery with Education and Outreach

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2018

Abstract

Premise of the Study

Biological collections are uniquely poised to inform the stewardship of life on Earth in a time of cataclysmic biodiversity loss. Efforts to fully leverage collections are impeded by a lack of trained taxonomists and a lack of interest and engagement by the public. We provide a model of a crowd‐sourced data collection project that produces quality taxonomic data sets and empowers citizen scientists through real contributions to science. Entitled MicroPlants, the project is a collaboration between taxonomists, citizen science experts, and teachers and students from universities and K–12.

Methods

We developed an online tool that allows citizen scientists to measure photographs of specimens of a hyper‐diverse group of liverworts from a biodiversity hotspot.

Results

Using the MicroPlants online tool, citizen scientists are generating high‐quality data, with preliminary analysis indicating non‐expert data can be comparable to expert data.

Discussion

More than 11,000 users from both the website and kiosk versions have contributed to the data set, which is demonstrably aiding taxonomists working toward establishing conservation priorities within this group. MicroPlants provides opportunities for public participation in authentic science research. The project's educational component helps move youth toward engaging in scientific thinking and has been adopted by several universities into curriculum for both biology and non‐biology majors.

Version

The article available for download here is the publisher version.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1002/aps3.1023

Publication Title

Applications in Plant Science

Volume Number

6

Issue Number

2

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