To boldly go where no volunteer has gone before: predicting volunteer activity to prioritize surveys at the landscape scale

Tulloch, Ayesha I. T., Mustin, Karen, Possingham, Hugh P., Szabo, Judit K. and Wilson, Kerrie A. (2013) To boldly go where no volunteer has gone before: predicting volunteer activity to prioritize surveys at the landscape scale. Diversity and Distributions, 19 4: 465-480. doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2012.00947.x

Author Tulloch, Ayesha I. T.
Mustin, Karen
Possingham, Hugh P.
Szabo, Judit K.
Wilson, Kerrie A.
Title To boldly go where no volunteer has gone before: predicting volunteer activity to prioritize surveys at the landscape scale
Journal name Diversity and Distributions   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1366-9516
Publication date 2013-04
Year available 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2012.00947.x
Open Access Status
Volume 19
Issue 4
Start page 465
End page 480
Total pages 16
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Aim: To identify the relationships between volunteer bird survey effort and motivations in order to prioritize investment in future surveying activities. Location: South-west Western Australia, a global biodiversity hotspot.

Methods: We developed nine hypotheses for volunteer motivations to predict the probability of a bird survey being undertaken anywhere in the landscape using data from the New Atlas of Australian Birds. We then established three goals for surveying in the study region: (1) equal representation of surveys across the landscape, (2) surveys stratified by habitat type and (3) representation of surveys in protected areas. We developed a function to estimate the benefit of investing in professional surveys, given the probability of a volunteer survey taking place and the survey goal, and calculated the cost of meeting a surveying goal with and without accounting for the probability of cells not being surveyed by volunteers.

Results: A model combining the location of protected areas, location of previous records of threatened species and habitat diversity was the strongest predictor of the probability of a volunteer bird survey being conducted. Each surveying goal resulted in different areas being prioritized for future surveying, indicating the importance of setting clear objectives before undertaking broad-scale monitoring or surveying activities. If our primary goal is stratified protected area representation in surveys, there are huge cost savings if only protected areas with a 70% predicted probability of not being surveyed by volunteers are selected for professional surveys.

Main conclusions: Professional sampling in survey gaps is required to reduce bias in volunteer-collected datasets. Using models of volunteer behaviour, we can identify areas unlikely to be surveyed. If these areas are important for the project objective, then we can either provide incentives for volunteers or carry out professional surveying. These analyses are best carried out before data collection commences.
Keyword Biological atlas
Citizen science
Conservation planning
Resource allocation
Species distribution modelling
Volunteer monitoring
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Article first published online: 3 August 2012.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 18 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Sat, 02 Feb 2013, 12:34:54 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences