Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Participatory monitoring of marine biological invaders: a novel program to include citizen scientists.

Abstract

Voluntary participation of citizens scientists has become a valuable tool for scientific research, but rarely applied for detection of non-native species in marine environments. This study was conducted in the Rio de Janeiro state, southeastern Brazil, at sites used for the SCUBA diving. The awareness activity was directed at dive centres before dives, addressing themes such as marine biodiversity, rocky reefs, biological invasions and citizen science. After the briefing, divers were invited to record occurrences of the invasive Tubastraea spp. on a wet note slate that were left under the responsibility of the dive centers, usually visible on the boat. This study showed a high level (100%) of credibility for data provided by volunteers, new records (N=39) for the invasive species that had not previously been mentioned in published articles, and that the approach used is efficient in its spatial and temporal aspects. The successful development of citizen-based monitoring programs depends on the approximation of the academic community and the commitment of dive operators. The diver plays a critical role within this process, providing valuable information, which can be used to confirm the engagement of common citizens and also to track the spread of non-native marine species.