Using Citizen Science to Bridge Taxonomic Discovery with Education and Outreach
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.
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.
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.
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.
The article available for download here is the publisher version.
Applications in Plant Science
von Konrat, M., Campbell, T., Carter, B., Greif, M., Bryson, M., Larraín, J., Trouille, L., et al. 2018. Using citizen science to bridge taxonomic discovery with education and outreach. Applications in Plant Sciences 6( 2): e1023.