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Type: Journal article
Title: EchidnaCSI: engaging the public in research and conservation of the short-beaked echidna
Author: Perry, T.
Stenhouse, A.
Wilson, I.
Perfetto, I.
McKelvey, M.W.
Coulson, M.
Ankeny, R.A.
Rismiller, P.D.
Grützner, F.
Citation: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, 2022; 119(5):e2108826119-1-e2108826119-9
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Issue Date: 2022
ISSN: 0027-8424
Statement of
Tahlia Perry, Alan Stenhouse, Isabella Wilson, Imma Perfetto, Michael W. McKelvey, Michelle Coulson, Rachel A. Ankeny, Peggy D. Rismiller, and Frank Grützner
Abstract: The short-beaked echidna is an iconic Australian animal and the most-widespread native mammal, inhabiting diverse environments. The cryptic nature of echidnas has limited research into their ecology in most areas; however, from the well-researched and endangered Kangaroo Island echidna population, we understand that the threats include habitat loss, roads, and invasive species. To obtain more information about echidnas Australia-wide, we established the Echidna Conservation Science Initiative (EchidnaCSI) citizen science project. EchidnaCSI calls on members of the public to submit photographs of wild echidnas and learn to identify and collect echidna scats for molecular analysis. To facilitate participation, we developed a smartphone application as well as ongoing social and traditional media activities and community events. In 3 y, more than 9,000 members of the public have downloaded the EchidnaCSI app, collecting 400 scats and submitting over 8,000 sightings of echidnas from across Australia. A subset of submitted scat samples were subjected to DNA extraction and PCR, which validated the approach of using citizen science for scat collection and viability for molecular analysis. To assess the impact of the project through public participation, we surveyed our participants (n = 944) to understand their demographics and motivations for engagement. Survey results also revealed that EchidnaCSI served as a gateway into citizen science more generally for many participants. EchidnaCSI demonstrates the potential for using citizen science approaches to collect high-quality data and material from a cryptic species over a very large geographic area and the considerable engagement value of citizen science research.
Keywords: Citizen science; monotreme; Australia; scat; DNA
Rights: Copyright © 2022 the Author(s). Published by PNAS. This article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND).
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2108826119
Grant ID: ARC
Appears in Collections:Ecology, Evolution and Landscape Science publications

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