“Citizen scientists,” or members of the public who voluntarily engage in scientific work, already contribute a great deal to environmental science, but they still have the potential to do much more for regional and global assessments of biodiversity, says a study published in the journal Biological Conservation (3 November).

“We have seen a wide range of participants being able to make really important contributions, including student groups and local community members,” notes Mark Chandler, lead author of the study and director of research at the non-profit Earthwatch Institute, and who also identifies several key pathways to tapping citizen scientists to collect data.

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