An evaluation of Sea Search as a citizen science programme in Marine Protected Areas

Koss, R. S., Miller, K., Wescott, G., Bellgrove, A., Boxshall, A., McBurnie, J., Bunce, A., Gilmour, P. and Ierodiaconou, D. (2009) An evaluation of Sea Search as a citizen science programme in Marine Protected Areas. Pacific Conservation Biology, 15 2: 116-127.

Author Koss, R. S.
Miller, K.
Wescott, G.
Bellgrove, A.
Boxshall, A.
McBurnie, J.
Bunce, A.
Gilmour, P.
Ierodiaconou, D.
Title An evaluation of Sea Search as a citizen science programme in Marine Protected Areas
Journal name Pacific Conservation Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1038-2097
Publication date 2009
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status
Volume 15
Issue 2
Start page 116
End page 127
Total pages 12
Place of publication Baulkham Hills, NSW Australia
Publisher Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty Ltd
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject 2303 Ecology
2309 Nature and Landscape Conservation
Formatted abstract
 Citizen science involves collaboration between multi-sector agencies and the public to address a natural resource management issue. The Sea Search citizen science programme involves community groups in monitoring and collecting subtidal rocky reef and intertidal rocky shore data in Victorian Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Australia. In this study we compared volunteer and scientifically collected data and the volunteer motivation for participation in the Sea Search programme. Intertidal rocky shore volunteer-collected data was found to be typically comparable to data collected by scientists for species richness and diversity measures. For subtidal monitoring there was also no significant difference for species richness recorded by scientists and volunteers. However, low statistical power suggest only large changes could be detected due to reduced data replication. Generally volunteers recorded lower species diversity for biological groups compared to scientists, albeit not significant. Species abundance measures for algae species were significantly different between volunteers and scientists. These results suggest difficulty in identification and abundance measurements by volunteers and the need for additional training requirements necessary for surveying algae assemblages. The subtidal monitoring results also highlight the difficulties of collecting data in exposed rocky reef habitats with weather conditions and volunteer diver availability constraining sampling effort. The prime motivation for volunteer participation in Sea Search was to assist with scientific research followed closely by wanting to work close to nature. This study revealed two important themes for volunteer engagement in Sea Search: 1) volunteer training and participation and, 2) usability of volunteer collected data for MPA managers. Volunteer-collected data through the Sea Search citizen science programme has the potential to provide useable data to assist in informed management practices of Victoria's MPAs, but requires the support and commitment from all partners involved.
Keyword Capacity building
Citizen science
Community engagement
Community-based monitoring
Marine protected areas(MPAs)
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: Centre for Marine Studies Publications
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