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The use of citizen science for marine biodiversity surveys: from species identification to ecologically relevant observations

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The current development of citizen science is an opportunity for marine biodiversity surveys to use recreational SCUBA diver data. In France, the DORIS project is extensively used for marine species identification, while many initiatives offer volunteer divers the means to record their observations. Thanks to the scientific synergy generated by the flagship project of the artificial reefs (ARs) of Prado Bay, located off the coast of Marseille (France), a multi-annual biodiversity survey was performed by a team of recreational divers certified by the French Federation for Submarine Sports and Education (FFESSM). The analysis of their observations with other citizen science data showed a good taxonomic coverage for fishes and mollusks. These observations also allowed (1) to follow AR colonization over the study period, with the increasing number of taxa and the growing occurrence of large fishes, and (2) to characterize taxa distribution between the different AR types, revealing the inefficiency of one type of AR which failed to provide the results expected from its design. This example demonstrates that the transition from species identification to ecologically relevant observation is perfectly feasible using volunteer naturalist SCUBA divers, on condition that both the protocols and the data are validated by professional scientists.
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PRIMARY RESEARCH PAPER
The use of citizen science for marine biodiversity surveys:
from species identification to ecologically relevant
observations
Thomas Changeux .Christophe Blazy .Sandrine Ruitton
Received: 13 January 2019 / Revised: 26 August 2019 / Accepted: 4 September 2019 / Published online: 30 September 2019
ÓSpringer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
Abstract The current development of citizen
science is an opportunity for marine biodiversity
surveys to use recreational SCUBA diver data. In
France, the DORIS project is extensively used for
marine species identification, while many initiatives
offer volunteer divers the means to record their
observations. Thanks to the scientific synergy gener-
ated by the flagship project of the artificial reefs (ARs)
of Prado Bay, located off the coast of Marseille
(France), a multi-annual biodiversity survey was
performed by a team of recreational divers certified
by the French Federation for Submarine Sports and
Education (FFESSM). The analysis of their observa-
tions with other citizen science data showed a good
taxonomic coverage for fishes and mollusks. These
observations also allowed (1) to follow AR coloniza-
tion over the study period, with the increasing number
of taxa and the growing occurrence of large fishes, and
(2) to characterize taxa distribution between the
different AR types, revealing the inefficiency of one
type of AR which failed to provide the results expected
from its design. This example demonstrates that the
transition from species identification to ecologically
relevant observation is perfectly feasible using volun-
teer naturalist SCUBA divers, on condition that both
the protocols and the data are validated by professional
scientists.
Keywords Citizen science SCUBA divers
Underwater monitoring Artificial reef Fish Macro-
benthos Mediterranean
Abbreviations
AIER Aide a
`l’identification des espe
`ces des
re
´cifs/Help for the identification of AR
species
AR Artificial reef
BW Biological Watch
CS Citizen science
Handling editor: Iacopo Bertocci
Electronic supplementary material The online version of
this article (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-019-04070-7) con-
tains supplementary material, which is available to authorized
users.
T. Changeux C. Blazy S. Ruitton
Aix Marseille Universite
´, Universite
´de Toulon, Centre
National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Institut de
Recherche pour le De
´veloppement (IRD), Mediterranean
Institute of Oceanography (MIO), Marseille, France
C. Blazy
Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre
for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) Maritime House,
Lascaris Wharf, Valletta VLT 1921, Malta
T. Changeux (&)
Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO),
Case 901, Campus de Luminy, Oce
´anomed,
13228 Marseille Cedex 9, France
e-mail: thomas.changeux@ird.fr
123
Hydrobiologia (2020) 847:27–43
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-019-04070-7(0123456789().,-volV)(0123456789().,-volV)
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
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