Hands-on experience prompts new actions for reef citizen scientists

 The benefits of increasingly popular citizen science programs extend well beyond helping researchers to collect data, a study has shown.

Capture_reef_citizen scienceUniversity of Queensland researchers, working with organisations in the Reef Citizen Science Alliance, found that more than half the people attending a citizen science event were likely to adopt new actions to help reefs.

Dr Angela Dean from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) said the findings were encouraging for citizen science projects and would be relevant to other programs.

“We surveyed participants in ReefBlitz, an annual event that brings together multiple citizen science programs to help Queensland communities collect information relevant to reef health,” Dr Dean said.

“Surprisingly, when we looked at what parts of the experience led to a likely change of behaviour, it wasn’t learning facts about reefs.

“What did work was allowing people to see what the problems were, and showing them how to do something about it, so it’s important we make reef issues and solutions real for people, rather than just throwing facts at them.”

Read the full story on the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions website

To find out more about the study, read

Dean, A. J., Church, E. K., Loder, J., Fielding, K. S., Wilson, K. A. 2018. How do marine and coastal citizen science experiences foster environmental engagement? Journal of Environmental Management. 213: 409-416. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.02.080