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Aligning citizen science with best practice: Threatened species conservation in Australia

Steven R, Barnes M, Garnett ST, Garrard G, O’Connor J, Oliver JL, Robinson C, Tulloch A & Fuller RA (2019) Aligning citizen science with best practice: Threatened species conservation in Australia. Conservation Science and Practice, 1, e100.

Well‐designed citizen science projects can improve the capacity of the scientific community to detect and understand declines in threatened species, and with the emergence of frameworks to guide good design, there is an opportunity to test whether projects are aligned with best practice. We assessed the current landscape of citizen science projects for threatened species conservation via a content analysis of the online communique of citizen science projects across Australia. Only 2% of projects stated clear research questions, although approximately 86% had implied project objectives aimed at threatened species conservation. Most projects were focused on field‐based monitoring activities with half using structured ecological survey methods. Most reviewed projects (65%) shared data with open access biodiversity databases and the vast majority use at least one social media platform to communicate with potential and existing participants (up to 81%). Approximately 50% present citizen‐sourced data summaries or publications on their websites. Our study shows there is a very strong foundation for public participation in threatened species conservation activities in Australia, yet there is scope to further integrate the principles of citizen science best practice. Improved integration of these principles will likely yield better outcomes for threatened species as well as for the citizen scientists themselves.

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