Citizen Science Helps Predict Risk of Emerging Infectious

Author , , , ,
Date 2015
Publication Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 13: 189–194.
Key Words
AbstractEngaging citizen scientists is becoming an increasingly popular technique for collecting large amounts of ecological data while also creating an avenue for outreach and public support for research. Here we describe a unique study, in which citizen scientists played a key role in the spatial prediction of an emerging infectious disease. The yearly citizen-science program called “Sudden Oak Death (SOD) Blitz” engages and educates volunteers in detecting the causal pathogen during peak windows of seasonal disease expression. We used these data – many of which were collected from under-sampled urban ecosystems – to develop predictive maps of disease risk and to inform stakeholders on where they should prioritize management efforts. We found that continuing the SOD Blitz program over 6 consecutive years improved our understanding of disease dynamics and increased the accuracy of our predictive models. We also found that self-identified non-professionals were just as capable of detecting the disease as were professionals. Our results indicate that using long-term citizen-science data to predict the risk of emerging infectious plant diseases in urban ecosystems holds substantial promise.
Full Citation Meentemeyer, R.K.; Dorning, M.A.; Vogler, J.B.; Schmidt, D.; and Garbelotto, M. 2015. Citizen Science Helps Predict Risk of Emerging Infectious Disease. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 13: 189–194.