Citizen Science Projects
Documenting and monitoring biodiversity and ecosystem services and their relationship to human well-being is a massive task. While the importance of trained biodiversity professionals is indisputable, there is an increased worldwide interest in engaging interested members of the public to join hands in tracking nature and natural resources. This engagement can go beyond data collection, to action-oriented projects that alert, protect or change policies regarding biodiversity.
The specific nomenclature of ‘Citizen Science’ is a relatively new one, but the idea and practice of ‘Citizen Science’ is over 100 years old. The Oxford University Dictionary defined Citizen Science in 2014 as “scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions.”
The scope of this conference is citizen science that is relevant to biodiversity in some manner — either as a matter of focus (e.g. mapping wild species) or because of impact (e.g. monitoring water quality). Abstracts that are not about citizen science in relation to biodiversity will not be considered.
Here is a list of citizen science initiatives related to biodiversity in India. This list builds on the projects described in a report authored by Pankaj Sekhsaria and Naveen Thayyil of the DST Centre for Policy Research at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. You can download the entire report here: Citizen Science in ecology in India – an initial mapping and analysis
Like the Roadwatch, Big4mapping is a smartphone based app that drives the project and is designed to limit the kind of information that can be uploaded. Only those images that have been clicked at that moment via the app can be uploaded to the database. The intention is to ensure that no ‘cheating’ is done and only genuine instances of these road kills are recorded.
Biodiversity Atlas - India
Biodiversity Atlas – India is a species-based bioinformatics platform. It is designed for aggregating, displaying and analysing biodiversity data from tropical developing countries and other biodiversity hotspots such as India. It is a distributed platform of stand-alone, taxon-specific, natural history websites that give ownership and recognition to contributing naturalists. Most data are contributed by amateur citizen scientists, photographers and professional scientists, and peer-reviewed and curated by advanced amateurs and professional biologists.
BirdCount India – eBird India (BCI-eBird)
Bird Count India is a partnership of a large number of organizations and groups working to increase our collective understanding of the distribution, abundance, and population trends of Indian birds; eBird is a global, internet based platform for collating observations of birds, and for birders to maintain records of their sightings. It is housed in Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology. Hundreds of thousands of birders use eBird, including many thousand from India.
Butterflies in India
Indian Foundation for Butterflies, or IFoundButterflies, was established during the monsoon of 2009 by a group of professional butterfly biologists, amateur naturalists and other enthusiasts interested in studying and conserving Indian butterflies. It will work towards three main objectives: (1) consolidate available information on Indian butterflies and make it freely available on the website, Butterflies of India, (2) actively collect new information on all aspects of Indian butterflies through research, and (3) communicate this information with policy-makers and work with various governing bodies so that the information will be used to conserve butterfly species and their habitats.
Citizen Sparrow is a public participatory project to which all members of the public are invited to contribute. Citizen Sparrow is motivated by the observation that House Sparrows have declined in numbers in many parts of the country, while in a few other parts their numbers are reported to be stable. The patterns uncovered by the Citizen Sparrow project will be subsequently used to investigate change in sparrow populations in more detail.
Common Bird monitoring Project
Common Bird Monitoring Programme is a citizen science programme. The objective is to involve more and more people in observing birds in their own backyard or a location they visit regularly. The programme recognizes the need to accurately monitor trends in common bird populations. Hence, they have started this unique activity in India namely Common Bird Monitoring Programme (CBMP).
Community based monitoring of fisheries in Lakshadweep
A unique community-based fisheries monitoring programme in collaboration with the local fishing community. This programme involves active fishers and boat owners in regular monitoring of day-to-day pole and line fishery dynamics. This approach not only helps generate valuable data on a large spatial and temporal scale but also enables fishers to see patterns in their fishery over time and creates a foundation for knowledge-based, local-level decision-making.
Dragonfly South Asia
Dragonflies of Indian subcontinent is a part of DiversityIndia, dedicated to documenting odonates of the Indian subcontinent. It is a facebook community (8000 members) that uses iNaturalist as a citizen science portal. We conduct annual meet-ups & workshops for training citizen scientists in the art of dragonfly watching & reporting.
The Frogwatch project is part of the Indian Biodiversity Portal working to get information on frogs and creating more interest and expertise on frogs in lay public
Hornbill Watch India
This citizen science initiative that generates baseline information on hornbill distribution in India and conducts long term monitoring of hornbill distribution. They also encourage citizen participation and interest in documenting hornbill presence. They are looking for records and images of the nine species found in India – Great Hornbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Narcondam Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, White-throated Brown Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill and the Indian Grey Hornbill.
India Biodiversity Portal
The Indian Biodiversity Portal is a unique repository of information on India’s biodiversity. The Portal aims to aggregate data through public participation and provide open and free access to biodiversity information. We welcome your participation and feedback.
The invasive Indian bullfrog on the Andaman archipelago
This project uses public surveys to rapidly and reliably estimate the distributions of synanthropic invasive species like the Giant African Snail, Common myna and House Sparrow. The purpose of this project is to generate information on pathways and rate of spread of the invasive Indian bullfrog on the Andaman archipelago and evaluate the use of public surveys as a potential tool to obtain reliable data on invasive species distribution and spread.
eMammal is a data management system and archive for camera trap research projects. This cyber-tool is designed to not only be useful to scientists, but also to the citizen scientists who aid scientists in photo collection. Camera trappers use our software to look at pictures, identify animals and upload them for review and archive at the Smithsonian. These data then help address important conservation-related questions. The pictures provide a unique view into the secret world of wildlife.
Marine Life of Mumbai
Marine Life of Mumbai (MLOM) aims to present a fascinating array of marine life on the big city’s shores. Coastal Conservation Foundation (CCF) evolved from Marine Life of Mumbai (MLOM), a two-year-old, citizen-driven collective that brought much-needed public attention to coastal biodiversity and habitats in the urban environs of Mumbai. Today, MLOM continues as CCF’s flagship programme. CCF was conceived by the co-founders and key members of MLOM, with the core vision to strengthen and expand the largely successful two-year-old MLOM model beyond its voluntary (ie: education and citizen science) and geographic limits (ie: Mumbai Metropolitan Region).
OwlIndia is an effort to systematically record Indian Owl species distribution and ecology that hopes to turn out to be a good database for the research on these neglected nocturnal mysteries. It is a facebook community (2459 members) that uses iNaturalist as a citizen science portal.
Pterocount - South Asia Bat monitoring Programme
This project is involved in getting information about the bat; trends in populations of roosts; status of roosts impacted by development projects. They also assess if conservation action/intervention is needed.
This project is event/incident specific which seeks to record and thereby provide a larger understanding and patterns of deaths of wild animals in road and rail accidents. They collect data on mortality of wild animals on roads or railway lines in India and democratise data collection.
The Roadwatch project is a smart phone based app that works to understand scale and spread of problem of roadkills, to initiate mitigation measures, raise public awareness through the “I Brake for Wildlife” campaign and impact policy level decisions of linear infrastructure impact on wildlife
The SeasonWatch project hopes to fill this gap in with what we know. By systematically recording the changing patterns of plant life, and understanding how climate affects their lifecycle, we can work together with Nature to conserve her bounty. Two distinct types of audiences contribute data to SeasonWatch. ‘Individuals’ are interested citizens, who have registered and made observations with SW of their own accord (usually by reading up online). ‘Schools’ comprise groups of teachers and students (who may be different from one year to the next) from a school who monitor trees together.
Village Wildlife Volunteers
Tiger Watch is an organisation of committed individuals who are re-defining wildlife conservation in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve and its environs. Tiger Watch operates at ground zero, always on the front lines of the many battles taking place to protect not just the Tiger but the entire landscape.