Citizen science and animal behaviour

Ethology

Abstract

Citizen science (CS) has evolved over the past decades as a working method involving interested citizens in scientific research, for example by reporting observations, taking measurements or analysing data. In the past, research on animal behaviour has been benefitting from contributions of citizen scientists mainly in the field of ornithology but the full potential of CS in ecological and behavioural sciences is surely still untapped. Here, we present case studies that successfully applied CS to research projects in wildlife biology and discuss potentials and challenges experienced. Our case studies cover a broad range of opportunities: large‐scale CS projects with interactive online tools on bird song dialects, engagement of stakeholders as citizen scientists to reduce human–wildlife conflicts, involvement of students of primary and secondary schools in CS projects as well as collaboration with the media leading to successful recruitment of citizen scientists. Each case study provides a short overview of the scientific questions and how they were approached to showcase the potentials and challenges of CS in wildlife biology. Based on the experience of the case studies, we highlight how CS may support research in wildlife biology and emphasise the value of fostering communication in CS to improve recruitment of participants and to facilitate learning and mutual trust among different groups of interest (e.g., researchers, stakeholders, students). We further show how specific training for the participants may be needed to obtain reliable data. We consider CS as a suitable tool to enhance research in wildlife biology through the application of open science procedures (i.e., open access to articles and the data on publicly available repositories) to support transparency and sharing experiences.

Frigerio, D., Pipek, P., Kimmig, S., Winter, S., Melzheimer, J., Diblíková, L., Wachter, B. & Richter, A. (2018). Citizen science and wildlife biology: Synergies and challenges. Ethology, 124(6), 365-377. DOI: 10.1111/eth.12746