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Citizen Science and Big Data: finding the signal amidst the noise. Nick Isaac Biological Records Centre, NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology @ drnickisaac. Citizen Science. Big Data. Can Citizen Science deliver the data we need to address the environmental challenges of the 21 st century?.

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slide1
Citizen Science and Big Data: finding the signal amidst the noise

Nick Isaac

Biological Records Centre, NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

@drnickisaac

slide2

Citizen

Science

Big Data

Can Citizen Science deliver the data we need to address the environmental challenges of the 21st century?

Environmental

Challenges

slide7

www.left.zoo.ox.ac.uk

SUMMARY ECOLOGICAL VALUE

slide8
Citizen Science

Citizens

Data collection

Feedback, Outreach

Researchers

Publications

slide10
Citizen Science is the new black

http://www.ceh.ac.uk/products/publications/

understanding-citizen-science.html

slide13
The Big Question

Can Citizen Science deliver the data we need to address the environmental challenges of the 21st century?

slide14
The Medium-sized Question

Can we use existing Citizen Science data to report on the status of biodiversity?

slide15

Target 12By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.

slide16
How do we know if the targets have been met?

Red List indices

  • Many species
  • Temporally-imprecise

Botham et al (2011) UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme Annual Report 2011.

  • Population time-series
    • Annual estimates of status
    • Taxonomically restricted
slide17
Occurrence records: the third way

440 million records on

90 million records on

Big Data Citizen Science  Environmental Challenges

Huge potential to detect signals of change

But the data are noisy!

slide19
Problem: ad hoc recording is biased

in time

in space

detectability

effort per visit

Number of Species

Effort

slide21
Selection & Correction methods

Selection

Remove the bias, leave the signal

The ‘well-sampled set’

Correction

by time period, by year, by visit

in space

slide22
Occupancy: modelling data collection

Extant

Extinct

Occupancy (unobserved)

Data generation process

Observations

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Statistical separation of “state” and “data generation” processes into separate submodels

slide23
Testing the solutions by simulation

Simple ‘correction’ models fail easily

Selection methods are robust but less powerful

Occupancy performs well

  • in combination with correction and selection

Isaac et al (in press) Methods in Ecology & Evolution

slide24
Trends in British Biodiversity 1990-2000

Good news: Median change +2.4%

Bad news: >1000 species would qualify as VU or worse

slide25
Identifying drivers of change

Declines in 2-spot ladybird are attributable to the arrival of the invasive Harlequin ladybird

Similar patterns across 8 native species in both GB & Belgium

Roy et al (2012) Diversity & Distributions, 18: 717–725

davidkennardphotography.com

Mike Majerus

slide26
The Priority Species Indicator

Source: Biodiversity in Your Pocket 2013

slide27

Technology

-An easy way to record

-Great potential for harvesting meta-data

-Provide instant feedback to the citizen scientist

slide28
"The more instantaneously feedback can be provided, the more motivating it is“

www.ebird.org

Phenology

Species frequency

Species distribution

slide31
Looking to the future: more questions

Which organisms should we prioritize?

  • Earthworms, Mycorrhizae ….

How to build and nourish a network of citizen scientists?

  • Feedback, motivation

What challenges and opportunities from new data types?

  • Barcoding, eDNA

What environmental challenges are on the horizon?

  • Nanoparticles, Geo-engineering, Biodiversity offsetting
slide33
Conclusions

We can report on biodiversity targets for a much wider range of taxa than previously possible

A little bit of meta-data would go a long way

Support the citizens to become more scientific

Addressing big environmental challenges requires fresh thinking

slide34
Acknowledgments

Bill Sutherland

Chris Thomas

Tom August

David Roy

Gary Powney

Michael Pocock

Arco van Strien