As regular readers of this blog will no doubt atest, I am something of a fan of citizen science. It has proven a great way to engage the public in a multitude of scientific endeavours, whilst at the same time giving institutions a keen and enthusiastic community they can tap into.
It should of course go without saying that it isn’t the holy grail however, and there may well be instances where a different approach can yield better results. It’s a trade off between intimacy and impact if you like. Local vs global.
A new site has been created to help organizations with this dilemma. The site, called CollaborativeScience.org, was created by a consortium of five universities with the aim of training naturalists in ecology, scientific modeling and adaptive management. They would then be given a space on the site to give students the chance to put their training into action.
Modeling is at the heart of the site, with various tools offered to help volunteers understand and analyze the data they collect through their research more effectively. They are then guided through the creation of a management plan to help them with their conservation work.
It is still early days for the project, but they have already trained up over 70 volunteers, with 20 models created via the site for collective use. They have also conducted a number of pilot projects, such as in the measurement of cattle impact upon water quality. The hope is that eventually the tool will be opened up to interested organiztions.
You can find out more about the project via the video below.