Harnessing people power for urban-ecological research

Cities offer an opportunity to engage a large urban population with nature and biodiversity research through citizen science. The CAUL Hub’s Urban Wildlife App allows citizen scientists to contribute data to research questions about the distribution and behaviour of wildlife in cities. The app has 4 modules, each focusing on these species groups: flying-foxes, frogs, beneficial insects, and possums and gliders.

Since its launch 4 years ago, the app has been used in multiple citizen science projects across the country, engaging more than 300 users. Users submitted more than 3,500 observations and researchers have identified 44 species so far.

An important distinction from other apps is that it allows data to be collected using the same protocols as scientists, ensuring the outcomes are scientifically rigorous and targeted to key research questions for each module. By using these methods, citizen scientists recorded important ecological interactions and information on how species use and move through cities and towns. They also revealed sources of conflict and mortality. These findings shed light on how urban spaces can be better managed to ensure they benefit wildlife and humans into the future.

Banner image: A citizen scientist submitted this photo of a motorbike frog in Perth to the Urban Wildlife App.

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