Identifying, reducing, and communicating uncertainty in community science: a focus on alien species

Probert, Anna F.; Wegmann, Daniel; Volery, Lara; Adriaens, Tim; Bakiu, Rigers; Bertolino, Sandro; Essl, Franz; Gervasini, Eugenio; Groom, Quentin; Latombe, Guillaume; Marisavljevic, Dragana; Mumford, John; Pergl, Jan; Preda, Cristina; Roy, Helen E. ORCID:; Scalera, Riccardo; Teixeira, Heliana; Tricarico, Elena; Vanderhoeven, Sonia; Bacher, Sven. 2022 Identifying, reducing, and communicating uncertainty in community science: a focus on alien species. Biological Invasions, 24 (11). 3395-3421.

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Community science (also often referred to as citizen science) provides a unique opportunity to address questions beyond the scope of other research methods whilst simultaneously engaging communities in the scientific process. This leads to broad educational benefits, empowers people, and can increase public awareness of societally relevant issues such as the biodiversity crisis. As such, community science has become a favourable framework for researching alien species where data on the presence, absence, abundance, phenology, and impact of species is important in informing management decisions. However, uncertainties arising at different stages can limit the interpretation of data and lead to projects failing to achieve their intended outcomes. Focusing on alien species centered community science projects, we identified key research questions and the relevant uncertainties that arise during the process of developing the study design, for example, when collecting the data and during the statistical analyses. Additionally, we assessed uncertainties from a linguistic perspective, and how the communication stages among project coordinators, participants and other stakeholders can alter the way in which information may be interpreted. We discuss existing methods for reducing uncertainty and suggest further solutions to improve data reliability. Further, we make suggestions to reduce the uncertainties that emerge at each project step and provide guidance and recommendations that can be readily applied in practice. Reducing uncertainties is essential and necessary to strengthen the scientific and community outcomes of community science, which is of particular importance to ensure the success of projects aimed at detecting novel alien species and monitoring their dynamics across space and time.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1387-3547
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Acess paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: biodiversity monitoring, citizen science, data quality, epistemic uncertainty, linguistic uncertainty, non-native species
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 07 Nov 2022 17:56 +0 (UTC)

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