Facilitating the protection and restoration of species and ecosystems at risk on BC’s South Coast

Citizen Science Tools

So what is citizen science? "Broadly defined, citizen science is a form of research collaboration that involves volunteers in producing authentic scientific research. Drastically simplified, citizen science is research accomplished by engaging humans as “sensors” to collect scientific data or as “processors” to manipulate scientific data or to solve data analysis problems. Involving people beyond professional scientists in a project enables unique new research, cumulating the contributions of many individuals (Bonney, et al., 2014) and taking advantage of human competencies that can be substantially more sophisticated than machines.

 

To produce sound science, citizen science projects incorporate means of assuring the quality of the research activities according to accepted scientific norms (Wiggins, et al., 2011), which distinguishes them from many other forms of collective content production.

 

A variety of labels have been used to describe citizen science and related forms of public participation in scientific research. Among these, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research, civic science, action science, and community science have been used most often. Each label is specific to a particular set of research disciplines and emphasizes different features of public engagement in science." Surveying the Citizen Science Landscape (2015). The movement towards engaging communities in science has grown so much that in 2012 the Citizen Science Association was formed and held its first international conference in 2013. Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology, one of the first organizations to host a citizen science network, continues to be a key supporter in the North American citizen science movement, providing a range of great resources through its Citizen Science Central portal. 

 

BC’s South Coast is a biodiversity hotspot. Given the focus on stewardship for protecting species at risk on private land, there is an expectation by government at all levels that species monitoring and habitat restoration needs will be filled more and more by partnerships and relationship building with the communities and landowners where these species and their critical habitat exist. This approach can only be effective if these audiences have access to the  appropriate skills, training, up-to-date tools and expertise they need to collect useable data and take informed actions. The South Coast Conservation Program is addressing this by taking an interactive approach that employs a range of tools from new mobile and digital resources to engaging professionals and laypeople alike in being part of continued conservation efforts. Check out our resources below!
 

SCCP Endangered Species Finder APP: Species Identification on the go! To complement our species and habitat profiles portal the SCCP launched our "South Coast Endangered Species Finder" app. This app synchs with our online species profiles so that both platforms can be updated easily as new information becomes available. At present about 20 species have complete profile data. Another 90 species are set to be completed and new species will be added (and some removed) as conservation listings change.

 

 

 

 

You can use the app to view images and general information about all the species profiled on our website. Use your phone’s camera to take pictures of species you encounter and make field notes using your phone’s GPS system. Create a diary of occurrences and favourites to use for future reference! This information will also be incredibly valuable for reporting your information through the BC Conservation Data Centre and programs like BC Frog Watch and the Community Bat Programs of BC

The SCCP is hoping to eventually incorporate a “report a species” function into the app so that users can submit images, coordinates and records of species for confirmation. Ultimately the SCCP hopes the system will be integrated with its “Species at Risk Networking” (SARnet) platform as well as provide a conduit for submitting occurrence information to the BC Conservation Data Centre. thereare also a suite of other online apps including iBird, Merlin (from Cornell's Lab of Ornithology), iNaturalist, Project Noah and the Conservation app from our partners at the BC Wildlife Federation for reporting violations.

 

BioBlitz events have become popular throughout Canada and the US, supported by organizations like Robert Bateman’s “Get to Know Program”, BioBlitz Canada, the Whistler Naturalists (Canada's longest running BioBlitz!) and a number of universities, local governments and conservation partnerships. On BC’s South Coast, BioBlitzes have become annual events. Since 2008 the SCCP has delivered five such events, including our most recent one in partnership with the Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society (Mossom Creek watershed) which utilied iNaturalist for the first time! Looking to host your own BioBlitz? The SCCP has created a handy presentation, "So You Want to Do a BioBlitz" available for download below. 

 

 

 

 

Finally, read through our survey findings and report from the citizen engagement workshops the SCCP hosted as part of our work to create a more effective, well informed, well-networked conservation community, better able to affect protection and stewardship of a range of species and their habitats, while reducing conflicts over land use due to knowledge gaps. It was these workshops that help to guide the SCCP and its partners in developing the citizen science tools and approaches above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RESOURCES
Whistler Pique article on the SCCP's mobile app to identify endangered species
SCCP PowerPoint presentation on pulling together a BioBlitz from start to finish!
adapted from "A Guide for Planning Community BioBlitz Events in Eastern Ontario"
the Mossom Creek BioBlitz of August 2017 was a first for the Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society and the first such citizen science event in the City of Port Moody. The event offered a fresh, engaging approach to identifying species and ecosystem diversity throughout the landscape of the Lower Mossom Creek watershed and the adjacent historic Ioco Townsite area.
A summary from an afternoon of networking and visioning on the possibilities, issues and challenges for conserving species and ecosystems at risk on the South Coast of BC. You can view a video version of this presentation on our About>>About SCCP page.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada perspectives on maximizing opportunities to improve habitats for species of concern during the course of projects for other species.
The Harrison Hot Springs BioBlitz provided a valuable bridging opportunity to bring together the interests of the SCCP, Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition, Miami River Streamkeepers, Friends of the East Sector and the Village of Harrison Hot Springs in recognizing the incredible natural capital found in the community.
Article by the AgassizHarrison Observer on the Harrison BioBlitz
The Stanley Park BioBlitz was a first for the Stanley Park Ecology Society and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. The event offered a fresh, engaging approach to identifying species and ecosystem diversity throughout the various public and natural areas of Stanley Park.
The West creek Wetlands BioBlitz, a first for the South Coast Conservation Program (SCCP) and Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD) Parks offered an innovative approach to identifying species and ecosystem diversity for managed lands.
Stanley Park BioBlitz, article by the Stanley Park Ecology Society
The Cheam Lake Wetlands BioBlitz, a first for the South Coast Conservation Program (SCCP) and Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) Parks offered an innovative approach to identifying species and ecosystem diversity for managed lands.
In January 2017, BSCS convened a group of scientists, educators, and technologists with significant experience in citizen science to consider the challenges of designing citizen science projects to achieve ambitious objectives in the areas of both science and education.
In this work, we present the results of a survey of citizen science project leaders, identifying sub-groups of project types according to a variety of features related to project design and management, including funding sources, goals, participant activities, data quality processes, and social interaction. These combined features highlight the diversity of citizen science, providing an overview of the breadth of the phenomenon and laying a foundation for comparison between citizen science projects and to other online communities.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between November 2 and November 6, 2012, on behalf of the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
The purpose of the British Columbia Species at Risk Public Opinion Survey was to inform Government about British Columbians’ opinions and beliefs about the management, protection, and recovery of species at risk within the province.
Survey for Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley Regional Districts
The Coquitlam River Watershed and surrounding area currently supports a range of endangered and threatened species. However, more information, awareness and action are needed to protect the existing populations and to help with their recovery.This report was prepared in partnership with biologist Aimee Mitchell to increase species at risk knowledge in the Coquitlam River Watershed & Tri-cities.
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