Abstract: There has been increasing interest in engaging community based volunteers – Citizen Scientists – in research and monitoring efforts around the world. These increases have often been attributed to shrinking research budgets, technological advances, and the need to better engage communities in science. While citizen science projects can be very successful, a citizen science project is not a ‘magic bullet’. In some cases, a poorly planned and implemented Citizen Science project can do more harm than good. However, other case studies have demonstrated that citizen science has provided essential information about the status and trajectories of species and ecosystems. There are lots of myths and assumptions about Citizen Science, and there are polarised positions on the value and role of citizen science projects. This seminar will provide an overview of citizen science and present case studies from the Great Barrier Reef. The pros and cons of citizen science approaches will be discussed, as will ‘rules of engagement’ that scientists, policy makers and citizen science groups should carefully consider. The seminar will also present the results of a survey that explored the perceptions of citizen science amongst scientists, natural resource managers and citizen science groups. While this seminar will present a primer on the relationship between citizen science and research and conservation, robust discussion about the values and roles of citizen science in marine research and conservation is welcomed.
Bio: Dr Andrew Chin has worked in marine research since the 1990s. Starting at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Andrew then spent ten years working at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) on coral reef surveys, impact assessments and environmental monitoring, and also developing training and capacity building programs such as the Eye on the Reef Program. Since moving to James Cook University in 2008, Andrew’s research has focused on coastal ecology and fisheries, particularly sharks and rays. He is particularly interested in the spatial ecology of coastal predators, and has a special interest in coastal fisheries in the Pacific.