Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Citizen Science, biodiversity and data management – EU BON perspective
Veljo Runnel

Last modified: 2014-09-29


Citizen science is a rising trend of engaging volunteers in academic research, which can occur on different levels - either by collecting field data with help of volunteers, engaging them in the process of research development and analysis or simply asking to perform routine operations like counting different types of cells onscreen. With technological advances the ability of citizens to contribute to science through various social and scientific networks is greatly increased. Computers, mobile devices, wireless data connections etc are part of everyday life and at the same time basic means for data collection and exchange for science. Monitoring nature is widespread activity for many citizens, we see masses of birdwatchers using portals like eBird, Artsobservasjoner, iSpot etc. They do it at free will and in many cases these portals are developed or supervised by researcher’s communities.

Project EU BON (Building the European Biodiversity Observation Network) addresses larger needs for biodiversity monitoring data for the society - data interoperability, data mobilisation, strengthening capacity for data analyse and management are one of the goals for EU BON. EU BON is working to find strategies for citizen science to be a part in these developments and will help with tools, guidelines, best practice examples and networking efforts that the data from citizen scientists have been put in good use by biodiversity researchers.

In order to help design tools and develop strategies for citizen science data mobilising, EUBON conducted a survey on volunteer involvement among biosciences. One of the most remarkable findings from the survey was that reasearchers' willingness to engage citizen scientists is greater than their current use of volunteers in their work. 85 percent of scientists expressed readiness for volunteer help, but the current engagement of volunteers was only 60 percent. To help researchers to further engage citizen scientists, University of Tartu has designed a model of biodiversity taxon occurence data forms for citizen scientists which will be implemented into the PlutoF workbench as a part of EUBON citizen science gateway.