Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Are biodiversity data gaps in urban areas a social justice issue?
Angelique Greer Hjarding

Building: Elmia Congress Centre, Jönköping
Room: Rydbergsalen
Date: 2014-10-30 03:00 PM – 03:15 PM
Last modified: 2014-10-03


Citizen science is becoming widely recognized as a valuable tool for collecting species observation data. Online citizen science reporting tools, such as eBird (http://ebird.org) and iNaturalist, (http://www.inaturalist.org/) make it easy for backyard nature enthusiasts to report species they observe visiting their yards. In theory, this network should provide access for anyone wishing to participate as a citizen scientist. But is there truly equal participation in community monitoring efforts?

Using biodiversity data downloaded from GBIF and filtered to include only records labeled as “human observation” from ebird and iNaturalist, I compared the spatial landscape of citizen science biodiversity reporting in Charlotte, NC, with that of urban landscape characteristics, economic status and race variables (2010 U.S. Census www.census.gov) on the census block group scale. I used all 464 block groups in Mecklenburg County in the analysis. Mapping results show that large geographic gaps in urban biodiversity monitoring are centered in blocks groups with the lowest median household income and home to the highest percentage of minority residents. The majority of these low-income minority block groups have no records reported and the remainder have 10 or less reported. The results suggest that there is a correlation between income, race and participation in citizen science biodiversity monitoring. I believe some of the factors that contribute to low participation are lack of conservation and biodiversity knowledge, weak connection to nature and access to data reporting tools such as smart phones and computers.

This research is funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation http://nfwf.org/.