Low-Cost Citizen Science Effectively Monitors the Rapid Expansion of a Marine Invasive Species | - CCMAR -

Journal Article

TitleLow-Cost Citizen Science Effectively Monitors the Rapid Expansion of a Marine Invasive Species
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsEncarnação, J, Baptista, V, Teodósio, MAlexandra, Morais, P
Year of Publication2021
JournalFrontiers in Environmental Science
Date PublishedJan-11-2021

Citizen science and informed citizens have become fundamental in providing the first records and accounts about the expansion of numerous non-indigenous species. However, implementing a successful citizen science campaign can be expensive and particularly difficult for aquatic species. Here, we demonstrate how a low-cost citizen science campaign and its outreach plan in social and traditional media enabled to track the expansion of the Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896 along the coast of Algarve (southern Portugal, Europe). We describe the outreach strategy and a cost-benefit analysis of the first year of the citizen science campaign. Social media platforms allowed us to reach a significant number of citizens (over 31,500 clicks in Facebook publications), while traditional media gave national visibility to the citizen science campaign and biological invasions. In only 1 year, we documented the spread of the invasive Atlantic blue crab across the entire 140 km of the Algarve coast with 166 valid observations referring to 1747 specimens, submitted by 62 citizen scientists. We spent 0 € on the citizen science campaign, but considering the time invested in the campaign the cost would have summed up to 3,751 €, while the total minimum cost for one scientist to go to the field and retrieve the equivalent information would have exceeded 11,000 €. We used free online tools of communication to obtain the records about the Atlantic blue crab, instead of a dedicated web platform or mobile app, and handled social media accounts ourselves, which saved us at least 18,815 €. The citizen science campaign revealed that the Atlantic blue crab is unequivocally established in southern Portugal and that females appear to exhibit summer migrations to coastal areas to spawn as in the native area. Overall, our low-cost citizen science campaign effectively documented the rapid spread of a marine invasive species while providing some insights into its ecology. Our strategy can be easily replicated and implemented elsewhere in the world to tackle the ever-growing problem of biological invasions while increasing the scientific literacy of local populations.

Short TitleFront. Environ. Sci.
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