Year of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism
Department or School/College
School of Journalism
Jeremy Lurgio, Laurie Yung
lynx, citizen science, wolverine
University of Montana
Citizen science has gained a strong foothold in wildlife research in recent years. The quest for information about wildlife existing at the most extreme locations at the lowest densities requires more people than most research projects can pay for. Using volunteers for everything from wilderness monitoring to aquatic studies has become common practice in the face of budget short falls and efforts to gain public support. While reporting on citizen science used in small carnivore studies, I found a group of volunteers poised to help researchers learn about animals like wolverines, lynx, fishers, marten and wolves. Compelling people chasing captivating wildlife across some of the harshest winter climates on earth reveals much about the human spirit. Their stories will both inspire readers, and also question the sanity of the researchers and volunteers. But what limitations and problems come with using citizen scientists? A system based on paid wildlife technicians with years of education in wildlife research has largely shifted to volunteers with a few hours of training. Volunteers often overestimate their abilities, resulting in compromised data collection. Coordinating volunteers takes away field time from those organizing research projects. Finally, those working for free are often less reliable than paid researchers.
Kuglin, Thomas Charles, "Tracking the Trackers, Does Citizen Science Help or Hinder Rare Carnivore Research" (2014). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 4342.
© Copyright 2014 Thomas Charles Kuglin