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Journal Articles Citizen Science: Theory and Practice Year : 2020

Can school children support ecological research? Lessons from the Oak Bodyguard citizen science

Audrey Bourdin
Olivier Bouriaud
Maria Faticov
Marco Ferrante
  • Function : Author
Ágnes Fürjes-Mikó
  • Function : Author
Andrea Galmán
Martin M Gossner
  • Function : Author
Deborah Harvey
  • Function : Author
Andy G Howe
  • Function : Author
Michèle Kaennel-Dobbertin
  • Function : Author
Julia Koricheva
  • Function : Author
Gábor L Löveï
  • Function : Author
Daniela Lupaștean
  • Function : Author
Slobodan Milanović
  • Function : Author
Anna Mrazova
  • Function : Author
Lars Opgennoorth
  • Function : Author
Juha-Matti Pitkänen
  • Function : Author
Marija Popović
  • Function : Author
Tomas V Roslin
  • Function : Author
Michael Scherer-Lorenzen
  • Function : Author
Katerina Sam
  • Function : Author
Markéta Tahadlová
  • Function : Author
Rebecca Thomas
  • Function : Author
Ayco J M Tack

Abstract

Scientific knowledge in the field of ecology is increasingly enriched by data acquired by the general public participating in citizen science (CS) programs. Yet, doubts remain about the reliability of such data, in particular when acquired by schoolchildren. We built upon an ongoing CS program, Oak Bodyguards, to assess the ability of schoolchildren to accurately estimate the strength of biotic interactions in terrestrial ecosystems. We used standardized protocols to estimate attack rates on artificial caterpillars and insect herbivory on oak leaves. We compared estimates made by schoolchildren with estimates made by professional scientists who had been trained in predation and herbivory assessments (henceforth, trained scientists), and trained scientists' estimates with those made by professional scientists with or without expertise (untrained) in predation or herbivory assessment. Compared with trained scientists, both schoolchildren and untrained professional scientists overestimated attack rates, but assessments made by the latter were more consistent. Schoolchildren tended to overestimate insect herbivory, as did untrained professional scientists. Raw data acquired by schoolchildren participating in CS programs therefore require several quality checks by trained professional scientists before being used. However, such data are of no less value than data collected by untrained professional scientists. CS with schoolchildren can be a valuable tool for carrying out ecological research, provided that the data itself is acquired by professional scientists from material collected by citizens.
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Dates and versions

mnhn-03082720 , version 1 (18-12-2020)

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Bastien Castagneyrol, Elena Valdés-Correcher, Audrey Bourdin, Luc Barbaro, Olivier Bouriaud, et al.. Can school children support ecological research? Lessons from the Oak Bodyguard citizen science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 2020, 5 (1), pp.1-11. ⟨10.5334/cstp.267⟩. ⟨mnhn-03082720⟩
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