Citizen science, the involvement of volunteers in research, has increased the scale of ecological field studies with continent-wide, centralized monitoring efforts and, more rarely, tapping of volunteers to conduct large, coordinated, field experiments. The unique benefit for the field of ecology lies in understanding processes occurring at broad geographic scales and on private lands, which are impossible to sample extensively with traditional field research models. Citizen science produces large, longitudinal data sets, whose potential for error and bias is poorly understood. Because it does not usually aim to uncover mechanisms underlying ecological patterns, citizen science is best viewed as complementary to more localized, hypothesis-driven research. In the process of addressing the impacts of current, global “experiments” altering habitat and climate, large-scale citizen science has led to new, quantitative approaches to emerging questions about the distribution and abundance of organisms across space and time.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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