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Using Input from Citizen Scientists to Monitor Biodiversity and Detect Species Range Shifts

Released: 2017
Citation:
Boydston, E.E., J. Briggs, V. Barve, M. Blackburn, B. Backiel, L. Lee, T.L. Morelli. 2017. Using Input from Citizen Scientists to Monitor Biodiversity and Detect Species Range Shifts. CDI Workshop 2017, Denver, CO. 16-19 May 2017.

Background: BioBlitzesat national parks in 2016 generated over 100,000 observations of plants and animals. Most were photographic records logged into iNaturalist(iNat) via smartphones. We seek to maximize the potential biodiversity information from these citizen science efforts, for natural resource management.

Phase I: We summarized NPS BioBlitzobservations made Feb -Aug 2016 for 109 parks. For 7 focal parks, we looked for possible new species records, by cross-referencing iNatwith NPS species lists of known biodiversity (NPSpecies).

Phase II: We are developing “TaxaTaxi”, an automated data integration process for cross-referencing iNatobservations with NPSpecies. The outcomes can help improve taxonomic and biodiversity knowledge of native and non-native species that may experience range shifts from land-use or climate change.

These examples were found through Phase I analyses of 7 parks. In Phase II, we will automate the data flow, developing the TaxaTaxisoftware tool to search thousands more observations.

iNatrecords from BioBlitzesreflected actual biodiversity (e.g., plants >> mammals), but also indicated what people encountered and were motivated to report.

Arthropods were a large proportion of iNatrecords but have not been inventoried for all parks.

Cross-referencing lists for 7 parks revealed 8 vertebrate and 65 plant species that might represent new biodiversity for these parks.

In Phase II, our TaxaTaxitool applied to all parks participating in the 2016 BioBlitzmay identify over 100 vertebrate species not currently in NPSpecies.

Taxonomic discrepancies present challenges for cross-referencing biodiversity lists that Phase II will address in filtering for records of new species.

Testing the tool with NPS staff and partners in the field will provide feedback for improved utility and accuracy.

New species records will be examined to see if they represent evidence of range expansions of native species, or changing distributions of invasives.

Early detection of species’ range shifts can promote faster management response to stressors, facilitating conservation of biodiversity.
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