News July 2023

Citizen science essential for invasive species policy

Engaging citizen scientists in the context of invasive species offers many benefits: public participation in research and management increases awareness, engagement, support for management and also scientific knowledge.

A recent study of 103 initiatives in 41 countries shows that countries with a tradition of citizen science have more active projects. Most projects engage citizens as the "eyes on the ground" for monitoring. They focus on alien plants, insects and terrestrial ecosystems. They usually aim to map distribution, although some projects collect specific data for management or rapid response. Because 75% of the initiatives collected data on invasive species of EU interest, citizen science in Europe is essential for nature policy. Yet only half of these projects were sustainably funded.

Almost all projects incorporate validation for species identification, which is important for data quality. Interestingly, only a third of the projects share their data with open data systems such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) or the European Alien Species Information System (EASIN). Moreover, many projects do not adhere to the principles of FAIR data management.

Feedback to and support from volunteers have a significant impact on the success of citizen science projects, measured in number of participants and number of data they collect. Offering maps with observations is especially beneficial to participation.

Tim Adriaens, Lien Reyserhove

Read the article: Price-Jones V, Brown PMJ, Adriaens T, Tricarico E, Farrow RA, Cardoso AC, Gervasini E, Groom Q, Reyserhove L, Schade S, Tsinaraki C, Marchante E (2022) Eyes on the aliens: citizen science contributes to research, policy and management of biological invasions in Europe. NeoBiota 78: 1-24.



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