John W. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., and Caren B. Cooper, Ph.D.
Citizen science has matured from a quirky and experimental novelty into a multi-purpose tool for scientific research, conservation applications, and even social activism. Engaging human observers as distributed sensors and data-loggers began as early as the mid-1800s, but Internet and mobile technology have revolutionized the process, greatly expanding our opportunity to map, model, and interpret earth’s systems at multiple scales and in surprising detail. We provide several examples, emphasizing new results from the rapidly growing, global bird-checklist project, eBird, perhaps the world’s largest observational database on non-human organisms. Data-mining technology incorporating distributed environmental, climate, and human population data are producing remarkably accurate models of species occurrence and “hotspots” useful for prioritizing conservation actions on the ground. More broadly, we argue that the scientific and social consequences of this scientific revolution are profound. In the context of biological conservation, citizen science is (a) providing raw data about environmental process and change at unprecedented scales, and (b) engaging an unprecedented diversity of stakeholders in measuring biological diversity and the human footprint. The result could be a genuinely new and improved relationship between humans and the biophysical planet over the coming century and beyond.
John Fitzpatrick is director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. From 1988-1995 he was Executive Director of the Archbold Biological Station in central Florida, and before that served for twelve years as Curator of Birds and Chairman of the Department of Zoology at the Field Museum in Chicago. He is Fellow and past President of the American Ornithologists' Union, and in 1985 received its highest research award for his co-authored book Florida Scrub-Jay: Ecology and Demography of a Cooperative Breeding Bird. He has served on national governing boards of The Nature Conservancy and the National Audubon Society, on three Endangered Species Recovery Teams, and on numerous scientific and conservation panels. He has authored over 150 scientific papers, discovered and described 7 bird species, and is co-inventor of eBird, one of the world’s largest and most rapidly growing citizen-science projects.
Caren Cooper is a research associate at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, blogger at Citizen Sci in the PLOS Blogging Network, guest blogger for Scientific American, and Senior Fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program. She is co-chair of the publications committee of the newly forming Association for Citizen Science. She is co-editor of an upcoming special feature on citizen science in the open-access journal Ecology & Society. She has authored over 35 scientific papers, co-developed software to automate metrics of incubation rhythms, and is co-inventor of NestWatch, CamClickr, Celebrate Urban Birds, YardMap©, and the House Sparrow Project. Dr. Cooper can be followed on twitter @CoopSciScoop.
Thursday, 25 July, 2:00 – 3:30 PM
Grand Ballroom I & II
Eleanor Sterling, Ph.D., and Marcelo Bonta, Ph.D.
Conservationists value and have a deep understanding of diversity in ecosystems. But why is diversity important in conservation organizations and communities? Are we as successful and resilient as we could be as conservationists? We will discuss a vision for a globally diverse, equitable, successful and relevant conservation community, the challenges and opportunities for realizing this vision, and a set of recommendations for action from individual to organizational. International professional society networks such as that of the Society for Conservation Biology are uniquely positioned to foster diverse institutions and initiatives across local, national, and international scales.
Eleanor Sterling is Director of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Sterling has long been actively involved in the Society for Conservation Biology, having served for 10 years on the SCB Board of Governors, and as a member of the Student Awards Committee and member and chair of the Awards Committee as well as the Education Committee. Dr. Sterling's research focuses on behavioral ecology and conservation. She also explores the intersection between biodiversity, languages, and culture. Dr. Sterling has a lifelong commitment to capacity development and diversifying the conservation workforce. In 2012, she was honored with the Columbia University Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC) Faculty Mentoring Award.
Marcelo Bonta is the Center for Diversity & the Environment’s founder and executive director. With over a decade of experience, Marcelo is a nationally recognized leader and pioneer on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in the environmental movement. He is a published author in Conservation Biology, Diversity and the Future of the U.S. Environmental Movement, the Land Trust Alliance's Special 25th Anniversary Issue, and Grist Magazine. His work with the Center for Diversity & the Environment has been featured in the New York Times, High Country News, Grist Magazine, Colors NW, The Oregonian, Saving Land Magazine and others.
Monday, 22 July, 6:00 – 7:00 PM
Grand Ballroom I & II
Keynote by Tyrone Hayes; Panelists: Dominick DellaSala, Geos Institute; Stuart Pimm, Duke University; and Francesca Grifo, Union of Concernced Scientists.
Past SCB President Paul Beier (Northern Arizona University) moderates this discussion panel featuring conservation scientists that have been outspoken leaders in translating science to policy, including a facilitated discussion regarding the appropriate role of scientists who advocate a policy position.