Earthwatch hosts European ‘citizen science’ forum
The pioneering partnership between Earthwatch and HSBC will be showcased at the 12th Congress of the European Ecological Federation in Avila, Spain, from 25-29 September.
Dr Dan Bebber, Earthwatch’s head of climate change research, will convene a session at the Congress titled ‘Involving Citizen Scientists in Ecology’, focusing on the growing popularity of environmental and ecological studies involving members of the public in data collection.
Over the past five years almost 2,000 HSBC ‘Climate Champions’ from around the world have made 75,000 hours of ‘hands-on’ contribution to environmental science, working as research assistants on climate change related projects.
Dr Bebber said: “The scope of studies involving members of the public ranges from large-scale monitoring projects, where people record data on species sightings, to involvement in bespoke experiments. This session will discuss and compare these different approaches, appraise data quality and quantity, the responses of the scientific community and funding bodies, and methods to maximize the benefits of volunteers and citizen scientists in ecological studies.”
“The degree to which volunteers can usefully contribute to data collection in short periods in the field is not well understood. Our experience working with HSBC suggests that volunteers can provide good data during short fieldings, but that adequate training and supervision is critical.”
The session’s keynote lecture will be given by Dr. Johannes Vogel, keeper of Botany at the Natural History Museum in London, and an expert in the empowerment of citizens to participate in science and science policy.
The title of the 2011 Congress, ‘Responding to Rapid Environmental Change’, reflects how ecologists are investigating the impact of global change on ecosystems. The Congress will bring scientific minds together to consider how ecology can contribute to tackling many of the challenges faced by society and the environment.
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