Citizen science taps the human passion for exploration and discovery to illuminate our understanding of the natural world.
Functioning as both a scientific methodology and an organizing principle, citizen science encourages amateur participants—who, in the word’s original sense, do the work for love, not money—to take an active part in creating knowledge by aligning their interests and labor with those of professional scientists.
Work Together: Citizen Scientists and the NatureServe Network
NatureServe’s 2012-2016 Strategic Plan calls for better communication of trends in distribution and condition of species and ecosystems across the Americas. We believe a coordinated strategy of collaborating with citizen scientists will provide an important, cost-effective means for rapidly increasing the number of observations needed to document patterns of biodiversity and habitats in a rapidly changing world, including potential declines or conservation successes.
NatureServe’s Vision for Citizen Science Engagement
NatureServe will strive to provide citizen scientists with tools that collect and manage data in ways that improve its quality, interoperability, and applicability—thereby enhancing the enjoyment they gain from their experiences in the natural world. NatureServe will partner with and build upon select existing citizen science tools and programs, emphasizing collaboration with efforts that are consistent with our data standards and organizational mission. By connecting citizen science data to larger international datasets, broader scientific networks, and demonstrations of its useful application, we can help ensure that citizens’ activities will contribute directly to effective conservation action.
At the same time, collaborating with citizen scientists will expand the reach, effectiveness, and impact of the NatureServe network and its biodiversity scientists, information specialists, and other professionals in their efforts to guide conservation action.
NatureServe will partner with and build upon select existing citizen science tools and programs, emphasizing collaboration with efforts that are consistent with our data standards and organizational mission. Our partners include:
- Herps of Texas, a project of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Wildlife Diversity Branch
Numerous online sources provide tools and digital infrastructure along with information and support for project developers and participants, including:
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Citizen Science Central
- DataONE: the Data Observation Network for Earth
The NatureServe Board of Directors and Science Advisory Panel, Thomas Brooks, and numerous individuals from our network for provided inspiration, funding, intellectual guidance, and practical insights that helped us develop the plan.