[MARMAM] New paper: Predicting trends in humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) abundance using citizen science. (Nicolò Tonachella)

nicolò tonachella n.tonachella at gmail.com
Wed Jun 5 10:16:56 PDT 2013

Dear all,

We are pleased to announce the publication of our paper:  Tonachella N., A.
Nastasi, G. Kaufman, D. Maldini and R. W. Rankin, 2013. Predicting trends
in humpback whale (*Megaptera novaeangliae*) abundance using citizen
science. PACIFIC CONSERVATION BIOLOGY Vol. 18: 297–309. Surrey Beatty &
Sons, Sydney. 2012.*

*Abstract: *.The Great Whale Count (GWC) is an annual citizen science event
that monitors changes in humpback whale (*Megaptera novaeangliae*)
sightings in Maui County during the breeding season. The study includes 15
years of observations (1995–1996 and 1999–2011) with over 11 000 whale
sightings. We provide a critical examination of the utility of the citizen
science data given the challenges of observer-, site- and year-specific
biases in counts, as well as an immeasurable and imperfect detection
process. We estimate an annual increase of 5.16% per year (±2.76%), which
closely resembles earlier trend estimates for Hawai’i. We demonstrate how
uncertainty estimates in citizen science data can be strongly influenced by
sampling processes, especially observer effects. Although such effects are
now widely recognized in ecological studies, citizen science data often
predate the mainstreaming of sampling protocols which measure and adjust
for imperfect detectability. Here, we propose random effect models to
minimize such effects in lieu of detectability techniques, and urge citizen
science programs to adapt their protocols to handle observer processes at
the planning and data collection stage.

pdf copy available upon request.

Best regards,

MSc Nicolò Tonachella

n.tonachella at gmail.com
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