Crowd sourcing for conservation: Web 2.0 a powerful tool for biologists
Newell, DA, Pembroke MM & Boyd WE, 2012, 'Crowd sourcing for conservation: Web 2.0 a powerful tool for biologists', Future Internet, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 551-562.
Published version available from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/fi4020551
The advent and adoption of Web 2.0 technologies offers a powerful approach to enhancing the capture of information in natural resource ecology, notably community knowledge of species distributions. Such information has previously been collected using, for example, postal surveys; these are typically inefficient, with low response rates, high costs, and requiring respondents to be spatially literate. Here we describe an example, using the Google Maps Application Programming Interface, to discuss the opportunities such tools provide to conservation biology. Toad Tracker was created as a prototype to demonstrate the utility of this technology to document the distribution of an invasive vertebrate pest species, the cane toad, within Australia. While the technological aspects of this tool are satisfactory, manager resistance towards its use raises issues around the public nature of the technology, the collaborative (non-expert) role in data collection, and data ownership. We conclude in suggesting that, for such tools to be accepted by non-innovation adopters, work is required on both the technological aspects and, importantly, a cultural change is required to create an environment of acceptance of the shifting relationship between authority, expertise and knowledge.