From the ponds of Paris to the quintessentially English floodplain meadow, hundreds of sites are now being studied by thousands of citizen scientists across Europe.
Data collected by these enthusiastic volunteers provide vital information for researchers, environmental managers and policy makers, and their extraordinary contribution to ecology is being celebrated at the joint BES/SFE meeting in Lille this week.
Professor Nathalie Machon from the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle will discuss the latest results from the ‘Sauvages de ma rue’ project. By encouraging members of the public to record plant species growing in urban environments, the project is helping people learn how to identify wild species on their doorsteps at the same time as collecting vital data on urban biodiversity.
Thanks to thousands of plant records submitted by enthusiastic volunteers, Sauvages de ma rue has created a new way to measure the quality of biodiversity in urban environments. The scale is based on the proportion of plant species that are pollinated by insects, and the higher the number, the healthier the environment and the greater the diversity of species.
And the scale will also help local authorities, says Professor Machon: “Our work will provide managers or local councils with a simple tool that they can use to asses biodiversity in their districts with the hope that it will encourage them to employ better practices that will improve the quality of biodiversity in our cities.”
In the UK, the Open University has led another successful citizen science project to monitor populations of the rare snakeshead fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris). This beautiful, delicate plant was once common in meadows throughout the country but intensive agriculture and development have destroyed much of its habitat.
The Latest on: Citizen scientists
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The Latest on: Citizen scientists
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