Citizen Science as a Tool for Conservation in Residential Ecosystems
Caren B Cooper, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Janis Dickinson, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Tina Phillips, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Rick Bonney, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
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Human activities, such as mining, forestry, and agriculture, strongly influence processes in natural systems. Because conservation has focused on managing and protecting wildlands, research has focused on understanding the indirect influence of these human activities on wildlands. Although a conservation focus on wildlands is critically important, the concept of residential area as an ecosystem is relatively new, and little is known about the potential of such areas to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. As urban sprawl increases, it becomes urgent to construct a method to research and improve the impacts of management strategies for residential landscapes. If the cumulative activities of individual property owners could help conserve biodiversity, then residential matrix management could become a critical piece of the conservation puzzle. “Citizen science” is a method of integrating public outreach and scientific data collection locally, regionally, and across large geographic scales. By involving citizen participants directly in monitoring and active management of residential lands, citizen science can generate powerful matrix management efforts, defying the “tyranny of small decisions” and leading to positive, cumulative, and measurable impacts on biodiversity.
citizen science; cumulative effects; residential landscapes; urban ecology