Abstract Detail

Education and Outreach

Miller-Struttmann, Nicole [1], Gerardo, Camilo [2], Danback, Lisa [3].

Spotting bee diversity: Testing the quality of citizen science photo survey data.

Recent bee declines have ignited public and scientific interest in understanding how humans affect invertebrates. In order to determine the mechanisms driving these declines and predict future fluctuations, large-scale monitoring of populations is required. Citizen scientists have been invited to help monitor bees by submitting their own data to online databases, such as BeeSpotter. This website databases information on bee identity, location, and foraging date using photographic data. Photo surveys that control for collection effort (temporally and spatially) potentially provide quantitative measures of diversity and relative abundance that approximate traditional methods. The goal of this study was to examine the alignment of citizen scientist data with traditional netting techniques used by professional scientists. In 2018, we conducted netting surveys within three hours following photo surveys conducted by trained citizen scientists. After controlling for collection effort, we tested for differences in diversity metrics.  We also tested the effectiveness of individualized training in 2018 relative to 2017. In 2017, 60 citizen scientists were introduced to photo survey techniques and data submission to the BeeSpotter portal in a large-group format. In 2018, six experienced undergraduate ambassadors trained small groups (4-6 individuals) of citizen scientists in identifying target taxa (i.e., bumble bees and honey bees), conducting high-quality photo surveys, and submitting bee observations to the online portal. Our results indicate that estimates of diversity from photo survey data approximate those from traditional collection methods. Species accumulation curves did not differ between data collection techniques, suggesting that these sampling protocols provide similar estimates of bumble bee diversity. Enhanced training improved the quality of the photo survey data. Photographs taken in 2018 were more appropriately scaled, taken at a better angle, and of higher overall quality for identification purposes relative to 2017. Photograph clarity (i.e., focus) was not significantly different between years. A lack of improvement in photograph clarity relative to the other metrics is not surprising given the challenging nature of photographing moving subjects. Future training will encourage the use of techniques for capturing stills of mobile organisms. Our study illustrates that, given adequate training, citizen scientists contributed high-quality data that approximate traditional estimates of bumble bee diversity. By engaging citizens in photo surveys, scientists can enhance the spatial scale of monitoring programs for large, identifiable invertebrates, while engaging the public in discussions of complex conservation issues.

1 - Webster University, Biological Sciences Dept., WH 13, 470 Lockwood Ave., Biological Sciences Dept., ISB 305, St. Louis, MO, 63119, United States
2 - Saint Louis University , Biological Sciences, 1 S Grand Blvd , Saint Louis , MO , 63104, USA
3 - Webster University , Biology , 470 E Lockwood Ave , Webster Groves , MO, 63119, USA

none specified

Presentation Type: Poster This poster will be presented at 6:15 pm. The Poster Session runs from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Posters with odd poster numbers are presented at 5:30 pm, and posters with even poster numbers are presented at 6:15 pm.
Number: PEO010
Abstract ID:687
Candidate for Awards:None

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