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Towards better species identification processes between scientists and community participants


Egerer, M and Lin, BB and Kendal, D, Towards better species identification processes between scientists and community participants, Science of The Total Environment, 694 Article 133738. ISSN 0048-9697 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2019 Published by Elsevier B.V.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133738


Urban gardens are a model system for understanding the intersection between biodiversity conservation and citizen science. They contain high plant diversity that contributes to urban flora. However, this diversity is challenging to document due to site access and complex plant taxonomy with hybrids and cultivars. Community research participation provides a tool to measure plant diversity and distribution by engaging gardeners who are most familiar with their plants to report on their garden's species richness using citizen science. Yet there is little empirical exploration of plant identification consistency between citizen scientists and scientific researchers. This could lead to reporting differences (e.g., missing species, multiple reporting of the same species) due to spatial and temporal effects, different perspectives and knowledge systems, and cultural context. We leverage a scientific survey of garden plants and a questionnaire asking gardeners to report on the species in their gardens to perform an opportunistic comparison of gardener and researcher reported plant diversity in community gardens. The comparison shows that gardeners interpret instructions to report plants quite variably, with some reporting all species (including herbaceous weeds) and crop varieties, while others reporting only their main crop species. Scientist on the other hand seek clarity in terms of species and variety and report all species located in the plot, including the small weed species that are overlooked by some gardeners. Consistency could be improved if researchers are more specific about their reporting expectations when asking community members to participate in data collection. We use this case study to communicate that paired citizen scientist-researcher data collection and dialogue between groups is necessary to improve methods for conducting consistent and collaborative assessments of biological diversity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:plant taxonomy, urban gardens, citizen science, human bias
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Urban and regional planning
Research Field:Land use and environmental planning
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Egerer, M (Ms Monika Egerer)
UTAS Author:Kendal, D (Dr Dave Kendal)
ID Code:134973
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2019-09-17
Last Modified:2020-05-19

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