One of the most ground-breaking aspect of these studies are that they used data collected through citizen science projects. This enabled us to build predictive models across an area as large as the whole state of New South Wales that would not otherwise have been possible with the limited data typically collected using field-based data collection.
The data for koalas (whether they were present or absent in different areas) came from state-wide surveys of the public
asking them whether koalas were present near where they lived. They were undertaken in NSW as part of a national effort
in 1987, 2006 and 2009–2011. In a novel step, the public were also asked whether they had also seen other common species,
allowing an assessment of whether they were actively searching for wildlife and therefore enabling an estimation of detection error. This work, once again, underscores how important citizen-collected data can be to our efforts to save our precious biodiversity.
See Decision Point #64 for a story on how the ‘citizen scientist’ stacks up against the ‘professional scientist’ when it comes to