• Volunteer and Adventure
  • Volunteering

How Citizen Science Can Help Preserve Wildlife

Article by GVI


Posted: March 14, 2023

Citizen science is a growing field of research that encourages ordinary people to participate in the scientific process. Through a variety of projects and initiatives, individuals of all ages can make meaningful contributions to understanding and conserving the natural world. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of citizen science, and discuss ways to get involved with citizen science wildlife projects for the benefit of conservation efforts.

What is Citizen Science?

Citizen science is defined as research conducted, in whole or in part, by volunteers. Many initiatives are organized formally by institutions such as universities, museums and environmental organizations, while others are undertaken independently by committed individuals. Typically, projects involve collecting data on a specific topic, be it tracking the movements of migrating birds or counting the number of stars in a specific area of the night sky.

Citizen science has grown significantly in recent years, owing to advances in technology and an ever-growing interest in environmental conservation. With the help of dedicated volunteers, scientists can collect more comprehensive data on a wide range of topics than would be possible alone.

Benefits of Participating in Citizen Science Wildlife Projects

Participating in citizen science projects can be incredibly rewarding for those involved. Volunteers have the opportunity to contribute directly to scientific endeavours and make an impact in the world. Participating in research also offers new perspectives on nature, from culling data on the breeding behaviours of ducks to counting the number of butterflies in a garden plot.

Citizen science also offers educational benefits, allowing volunteers to gain hands-on experience in data collection and analysis. Through projects, volunteers learn core scientific concepts such as analysis techniques, hypothesis testing, data validation, and more. People of all ages can take part in citizen science initiatives – educational benefits even extend to children who can get a head start in developing valuable STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

Types of Citizen Science Wildlife Projects

Citizen science wildlife projects encompass a broad range of topics and activities. The types of research available will depend on the region and organisation in question, but shared themes include bird counts, aquatic monitoring programs, amphibian inventory projects, insect surveys, mammal sightings, and much more.

Projects may involve observations over time (for instance a bird count over the course of a month) or just a single event (such as a one-time amphibian inventory). Volunteers often collect data in the field but can also participate in projects from home. For instance, some programs allow volunteers to analyse audio recordings or satellite imagery in order to detect bird calls or map land cover changes.

How to Participate in Citizen Science Wildlife Projects

If you want to get involved with citizen science wildlife projects, there are a variety of ways to get started. You can begin by searching for projects close to home – local websites are often a good source for information. There are also many websites and databases that list individual projects and local opportunities.

Those interested should think about the kinds of activities they’d like to participate in – would you prefer to work on field studies such as bird counting or would you rather work from home analysing satellite imagery? If the scientific process is unfamiliar to you, it can be helpful to browse through online materials offered by project sponsors and to think of questions you have about research design or data analysis.

Common Challenges Faced by Citizen Scientists

Despite its benefits and rewards, citizen science also poses certain challenges. Working with unfamiliar data sources or new technology can be intimidating and/or time-consuming when starting out. It can also be hard to stay motivated when working on a project of long duration with no immediate feedback.

Foremost among the challenges faced by citizen scientists is establishing trust with sponsors – concerns about data privacy and commitment to projects can make some people hesitant when deciding to get involved. Thankfully, most initiatives are designed with these issues in mind and strive to make sure participants feel comfortable and safe.

Success Stories from Citizen Science Wildlife Projects

Citizen science initiatives have achieved countless successes over the years. Projects like eBird have revolutionized bird monitoring, allowing people from all over the world to contribute data that resulted in a greater understanding of avian migration and distribution patterns.

Studies have also revealed valuable insights about wild-animal interactions, showing how urban environments can support large populations of squirrels and raccoons. Thanks to the efforts of citizen-scientist volunteers, researchers now have detailed information about species habitats and behaviours.

Benefits of Citizen Science for Conservation Efforts

Citizen science can be an invaluable tool for conservation sciences, providing direct support for organisations tackling a range of environmental issues. Data collected by citizen scientists can help inform management decisions, giving conservationists valuable information about species range and population levels.

In addition to providing vital data, citizen-science projects are often designed with the purpose of raising awareness about conservation issues. Project sponsors and volunteers alike can work towards educating others about environmental issues and spreading knowledge on ways individuals can get involved in conservation efforts.

Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Participation

If you’re looking to make the most out of your involvement in citizen-science projects there are a few tips you should keep in mind. Firstly, be selective with your participation. Focus on projects that you find interesting or useful. If you’re unsure if something is a good fit for you, contact the project sponsors for more details.

It’s also important to remember that although some projects might have straightforward tasks, others may require learning more technical skills. Make sure you read all available project guides before starting to ensure you understand any methods used to generate data. Finally, stay motivated! Citizen science projects can take a lot of effort – make sure your work is not only worthwhile but also rewarding. Establish milestones and rewards throughout your participation that keep you motivated.

Resources for Learning More About Citizen Science Wildlife Projects

If you’re looking to jump into citizen science there are plenty of resources available. The Citizen Science Association works to promote public participation in scientific research initiatives and offers multiple avenues into becoming a citizen scientist – from webinars about project design to discussion forums about best practices for data analysis.

Sites like SciStarter offer aggregated listings of various initiatives from all over the world – many even allow users to track their activities and share information. SciStarter also offers tutorials on how to get started with citizen science projects.

We hope that this article has inspired you to explore opportunities available within the exciting field of citizen science wildlife projects – getting involved could not only provide an opportunity for personal growth but also contribute directly to scientific efforts worldwide.

GVI’s citizen science volunteer programs are designed to provide volunteers with hands-on experience in fieldwork, data collection, and analysis, and offer educational benefits to individuals of all ages. GVI’s citizen science programs provide a unique opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to scientific research while travelling and experiencing different cultures.

what’s up next?
Peak Climbing in Nepal: An Adventure of a Lifetime

Discover the thrill of peak climbing in Nepal with tips on preparation, training, and the best peaks to conquer.

You might also like these articles

Exploring the World with Student Adventure Travel Programs
Read the article
The Importance of Citizen Science to Protect the Ocean
Read the article
Volunteer and Adventure
Madagascar’s Iconic Baobab Tree
Read the article
Volunteer and Adventure
Fort Dauphin, Madagascar: A Hidden Gem for Travelers
Read the article
Volunteer and Adventure
Should You Take a Gap Year Before University?
Read the article
Volunteer and Adventure
Gap Year Checklist: Essential Planning Tips for Your Adventure Abroad
Read the article
Volunteer and Adventure
Top Things to Do for Adventure and Relaxation on Denarau Island, Fiji
Read the article
Volunteer and Adventure
Exploring the Spectacular Waterfalls of Ghana
Read the article
Volunteer and Adventure
Exploring La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Read the article
Wildlife Conservation