Developing a Citizen Science Framework for the Arctic Using the ‘Arctic Salmon’ Initiative

Developing a Citizen Science Framework for the Arctic Using the ‘Arctic Salmon’ Initiative

Karen M. Dunmall and James D. Reist

Developing a Citizen Science Framework for the Arctic Using the ‘Arctic Salmon’ InitiativeThis is part of Impacts of a Changing Environment on the Dynamics of High-latitude Fish and Fisheries
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Description

Assessing biodiversity in a rapidly changing Arctic is a key challenge inherent to international initiatives focused on conserving biodiversity. Integrating local knowledge with scientific research would facilitate these assessments; however, this alliance is rare in the Arctic. Applying citizen science as a community-based monitoring tool may effectively bridge Indigenous and scientific knowledge due to the commonality of using specific and easily documented indicators to assess environmental change in both knowledge systems. Here we have developed a novel framework to effectively apply citizen science in the Canadian Arctic based on “Arctic Salmon,” a current example of a citizen science project that uses occurrences and distributional shifts of Pacific salmon to monitor environmental change in the Canadian Arctic. While the overarching citizen science framework remains similar to other applications, the fundamental differences unique to bridging Indigenous and scientific knowledges stem from the addition of a mutual reporting step during data collection, and from constant communication and input between both knowledge systems. The mutual sharing of individual observations among participants is critical to the development of a communication network that increases the value in reporting observations. This may lead to increased participation and also allows an ongoing evaluation of the data collection processes. While broadly appealing as a tool to assess environmental change, citizen science must be carefully applied to ensure the collaborative production of knowledge, which will provide critical information necessary to predict impacts and opportunities associated with biodiversity shifts in the Arctic.

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