A huge amount of information is required to address global problems such as habitat loss, extinction, and climate change – more than professional scientists can collect alone. Citizen science projects allow interested non-professionals to participate in the scientific process and, in turn, provides an opportunity to conduct studies on an almost unprecedented scale.
Citizen science comes in many forms. Some projects, like a BioBlitz, are often run by a specific group or organization and require participants to collect specific data, in a specific location, over a specific timeframe. Other projects, especially online databases like eBird or iNaturalist, allow participants to collect observations at their own pace. Regardless of the specifics, citizen science projects tend to share certain characteristics:
- Data collection follows an established protocol to ensure the information can be easily compared
- The collected data is made available both to professional scientists and, often, to the general public.
Who can participate?
The best part of citizen science is that anyone can get involved! People from all walks of life participate in these projects, most of which require little more than a mobile phone or Internet access. If you are interested in improving our understanding of the natural world, please explore the rest of this page to learn more about how you can help.