Last Friday Lecture Series: Is Citizen Science the Next Revolution in Conservation, Ecology, and Behavior Research?
For centuries, natural history discoveries have been made by members of the public. The professionalization of natural history research is a relatively recent development. Professional scientists, however, are now recognizing that many questions, including understanding some of the greatest global threats to biodiversity, can only be answered through large-scale efforts in which professional scientists partner with members of the public. These new citizen science efforts can answer basic and applied research questions across the fields of ecology and behavior. This talk will demonstrate three ways in which, through the help of thousands of dedicated naturalists, the Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern California (RASCals) Project is allowing us to make discoveries that were not possible through other methods. These discoveries include 1) documenting and tracking invasive species; 2) assessing how parasitism and predation vary along urban to rural gradients; and 3) documenting rarely observed natural history events such as mating behavior.