John Tweddle, Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum has a long history of developing collaborative, public-facing wildlife recording and monitoring projects. Current initiatives range from location-specific recording events such as BioBlitzes, to ongoing surveys including Bluebells, the Big Seaweed Search, Urban Trees and OPAL. A key feature of these projects is that they are open to anyone that has an interest in the subject, from absolute beginners to expert naturalists. This presents a great opportunity to involve large audiences in the generation of genuinely useful scientific information, but also poses a series of challenges. For example, both data quality and participants’ motivations to take part can be highly variable.
In this presentation I draw on our experiences of working with a broad spectrum of public audiences, to consider the opportunities and limitations of using publicly-generated data for the purposes of biodiversity recording and monitoring.