Citizen scientists come up with nearly 80% of bird and climate data

Citizen science is important for documenting the patterns and consequences of climate change on birds.

Citizen scientists are responsible for the data used in up to 77 per cent of studies in the field of birds and climate change, a study at Cornell University has found.
Our paper is a chance to say thank you to the many people who are citizen scientists,” said the study's lead author Caren Cooper, a research associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “These people are part of the process of creating new knowledge—and whether it’s counting birds or butterflies, gazelles or galaxies, they should know that their observations really make a difference in professional science.

Birds make excellent subjects for citizen-science projects as the helpful amateurs can make observations around the globe, often long periods.

Cooper's study showed that between 24% and 77% of the papers in the field drew primarily on volunteer data. Citizen science proved especially important for documenting the patterns and consequences of climate change, such as population declines and changes in migration timing.

The field is ideal for citizen scientists thanks to popularity of bird-watching.

Some well-known North American projects are the Christmas Bird Count, eBird, and the Great Backyard Bird Count, as well as activities such as bird-banding stations and breeding bird atlases.

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