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How useful are volunteers for visual biodiversity surveys? An evaluation of skill level and group size during a conservation expedition

Albergoni, Andrea, Bride, Ian, Scialfa, Charles, Jocque, Merlijn, Green, Steve (2016) How useful are volunteers for visual biodiversity surveys? An evaluation of skill level and group size during a conservation expedition. Biodiversity and Conservation, 25 (1). pp. 133-149. ISSN 0960-3115. E-ISSN 1572-9710. (doi:10.1007/s10531-015-1039-9)

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10531-015-1039-9

Abstract

The ability of volunteers to undertake different tasks and accurately collect data is critical for the success of many conservation projects. In this study, a simulated herpetofauna visual encounter survey was used to compare the detection and distance estimation accuracy of volunteers and more experienced observers. Experience had a positive effect on individual detection accuracy. However, lower detection performance of less experienced volunteers was not found in the group data, with larger groups being more successful overall, suggesting that working in groups facilitates detection accuracy of those with less experience. This study supports the idea that by optimizing survey protocols according to the available resources (time and volunteer numbers), the sampling efficiency of monitoring programs can be improved and that non-expert volunteers can provide valuable contributions to visual encounter-based biodiversity surveys. Recommendations are made for the improvement of survey methodology involving non-expert volunteers.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s10531-015-1039-9
Uncontrolled keywords: Volunteer data; Conservation voluntourism; Observer performance; Visual survey; Sampling efficiency
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Ian Bride
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2016 08:59 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 17:09 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/54718 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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