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Can Citizen Science Assist in Determining Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Presence in a Declining Population?

By Emily Flower, Darryl Jones, Lilia Bernede

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Abstract

The acceptance and application of citizen science has risen over the last 10 years, with this rise likely attributed to an increase in public awareness surrounding anthropogenic impacts affecting urban ecosystems. Citizen science projects have the potential to expand upon data collected by specialist researchers as they are able to gain access to previously unattainable information, consequently increasing the likelihood of an effective management program. The primary objective of this research was to develop guidelines for a successful regional-scale citizen science project following a critical analysis of 12 existing citizen science case studies. Secondly, the effectiveness of these guidelines was measured through the implementation of a citizen science project, Koala Quest, for the purpose of estimating the presence of koalas in a fragmented landscape. Consequently, this research aimed to determine whether citizen-collected data can augment traditional science research methods, by comparing and contrasting the abundance of koala sightings gathered by citizen scientists and professional researchers. Based upon the guidelines developed, Koala Quest methodologies were designed, the study conducted, and the efficacy of the project assessed. To combat the high variability of estimated koala populations due to differences in counting techniques, a national monitoring and evaluation program is required, in addition to a standardised method for conducting koala population estimates. Citizen science is a useful method for monitoring animals such as the koala, which are sparsely distributed throughout a vast geographical area, as the large numbers of volunteers recruited by a citizen science project are capable of monitoring a similarly broad spatial range. 

Submitter

Katie Carroll

Date 2016
Publication Title Animals
Volume 6
Issue 7
Pages 13
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani6070042
URL http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani6070042
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Australia
  5. human-wildlife interactions
  6. koala
  7. Mammals
  8. Nature
  9. Physical environment
  10. Population decline
  11. Wild animals
  12. wildlife
  13. wildlife conservation
  14. wildlife management