Citizen science ‘way of the future’ for CQ
Central Queensland residents are contributing to scientists’ understanding of the region’s wildlife – and in the process becoming scientists themselves.
Fitzroy Basin Association’s citizen science projects allow people to input information about a particular area of interest – for instance, feral animals, pest weeds, or native species numbers – with the use of a phone app.
The collected data can then be used to inform environmental management practices and government policy.
Fitzroy Basin Association science engagement officer Daniel Rea said the organisation was currently supporting several citizen science projects: Team Turtle CQ, as an example, involves monitoring the coast’s turtle population and habitats.
“Anybody can be involved in that project, but people are walking along the beaches of Central Queensland, taking photos, and recording the data about what they see, including the turtles that have nested over the summer,” Mr Rea said.
“There’s no way that the scientists here at FBA can do all of it on our own, so a great way to engage the project and to cover more area is to used citizen science.”
Team Turtle CQ’s Crystal Kean, who has been volunteering for a number of years, said as she lived near the coast, it took little effort for her to contribute to the scientific understanding of the environment.
“We monitor the beaches along the coast here and basically just by walking the beaches we get information about which beaches turtles are nesting on, but also where there’s no activity is just as important as where there is activity for us,” she said.
“People are walking the beaches anyway, so if they can just feed that data in it helps us get a better picture of what is happening along our coast.”
Queensland chief scientist Professor Hugh Possingham said citizen science was “the way of the future”, made possible by the smartphone revolution.
“People often forget that Queensland is the 16th biggest country in the world and it only has five million people, so if we’re giong to understand something like the entire Fitzroy Basin with 1000km of coastline … We will never have enough scientists to collect that data,” he said.
“Citizen science is the pathway we think to science literacy.
“If they’re [participants] actually doing science, they’re collecting their own data … they’re becoming scientists.”
Those interested in getting involved should visit the FBA website.