Overcoming biodiversity blindness: secondary data in primary citizen science observations.

Published online
06 May 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Ecological Solutions and Evidence

Pernat, N. & Canavan, S. & Golivets, M. & Hillaert, J. & Itescu, Y. & Jarić, I. & Mann, H. M. R. & Pipek, P. & Preda, C. & Richardson, D. M. & Teixeira, H. & Vaz, A. S. & Groom, Q.
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In the face of the global biodiversity crisis, collecting comprehensive data and making the best use of existing data are becoming increasingly important to understand patterns and drivers of environmental and biological phenomena at different scales. Here we address the concept of secondary data, which refers to additional information unintentionally captured in species records, especially in multimedia-based citizen science reports. We argue that secondary data can provide a wealth of ecologically relevant information, the utilisation of which can enhance our understanding of traits and interactions among individual organisms, populations and biodiversity dynamics in general. We explore the possibilities offered by secondary data and describe their main types and sources. An overview of research in this field provides a synthesis of the results already achieved using secondary data and different approaches to information extraction. Finally, we discuss challenges to the widespread use of secondary data, such as biases, licensing issues, use of metadata and lack of awareness of this trove of data due to a missing common terminology, as well as possible solutions to overcome these barriers. Although the exploration and use of secondary data is only emerging, the many opportunities identified show how these data can enrich biodiversity research and monitoring.

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