A study by Delaney et al. (2008) tests the merits of citizen-science in evaluation of marine invasive species spread. Delaney et al. (2008) begin their paper by explaining that the process of categorizing and determining the spread of marine species with a small group of scientists takes an inordinate amount of time and monetary resources which are often lacking. They propose that citizen-science could be utilized to help create a comprehensive database of spatial and temporal information through volunteer-based monitoring because the labor is free and the time resource is great.
Delaney et al. (2008) claim that in order for citizen-science to be effective, volunteer criteria first need to be determined in order to ensure accuracy of the collected data. They found that the ability to report accurate data is directly proportional to age and education. They found that to achieve 95% accuracy, they needed volunteers with at least 2 years of university education. Their results imply that criteria for separate studies would have to be determined to ensure high accuracy for particular circumstances.
The scientists clearly demonstrated that citizen-science can be utilized in such a way that it can yield scientifically sound data. Accurate data leads to more informed policy decisions for the prevention of future aquatic species invasions and aids in management of established invasive species. I hope that other scientists in the field of invasive biology will come to realize the resource that citizen-science offers and start to utilize it in order to lower distribution rates of invasive species.
Delaney, David G., C.D. Sperling, C.S. Adams, and B. Leung. 2008. Marine invasive species: validation of citizen science and implications for national monitoring networks. Biological Invasions 10: 117-128.