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Citizen, Science, Highways, and Wildlife: Using a Web-based GIS to Engage Citizens in Collecting Wildlife Information

Tracy Lee, University of Calgary
Michael S Quinn, University of Calgary
Danah Duke, University of Calgary

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Abstract

Road Watch in the Pass is a citizen-science project that engages local citizens in reporting wildlife observations along a 44-km stretch of Highway 3 through Crowsnest Pass in southwestern Alberta, Canada. The numbers of wildlife vehicle collisions and a recent proposal to expand the highway have raised concerns from both human safety and wildlife conservation perspectives. Through the use of a web-based GIS, interested citizens can contribute information that will be instrumental in making final decisions concerning measures to mitigate the effects of highway expansion. Currently, 58 people have contributed over 713 observations to Road Watch. We performed a preliminary comparison of 11 months of Road Watch observations and wildlife mortality data for the same time period to demonstrate that the use of citizen science not only augments more conventional approaches, but also results in the emergence of new knowledge and insights. A Kappa index of agreement of 14% indicates poor agreement between the data sets, highlighting that wildlife successfully cross the highway in areas not identified by the wildlife mortality data. This has important implications for design and mitigation efforts for Highway 3 and other roadways.

Key words

citizen science; Crowsnest Pass; highways; road ecology; transportation; web-based GIS; wildlife-vehicle collisions
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087