Dirk S. Schmeller
Research interestsA large part of my current research deals with real-world problems of conservation biology and biodiversity conservation with the aim of improving the assessment of the status and trend of biodiversity and theory-driven and policy-relevant scale issues in conservation. My work on volunteer involvement in biodiversity monitoring received much attention. Biodiversity monitoring faces two practical difficulties: the need to maintain a sustained effort of monitoring across years to ensure the collection of relevant monitoring time series and the need to obtain precise monitoring data that allow the detection of significant changes across space and time in biodiversity. These needs come into conflict with the usually limited amount of available financial and human resources. A tradeoff solution is to involve volunteers in monitoring activities, as frequently done in Europe and North America. The involvement of the public is imperative to reduce the cost of biodiversity monitoring and has the added benefit of enhancing citizen participation in science practices and thus environmental awareness. My research conducted in the EU-project EuMon, which I coordinated, showed that the number of volunteers involved in a monitoring scheme directly affect the sampling effort. My research illustrated that with state-of-the-art survey designs or analysis methods, volunteer-based schemes can provide relatively reliable data and thus yield unbiased results. Quality of volunteering data is more likely determined by survey design, analytical methodology, and communication skills within the schemes rather than by volunteer involvement per se. Further, volunteer involvement is the most economic possibility to conduct biodiversity monitoring over large temporal and spatial scales. From a social point of view, volunteer involvement needs to consider differences in mentality between individuals and societies in total. There is not one recipe to involve volunteers in different countries, but rather each recruitment and training of volunteers needs to be adapted to local conditions. These obstacles will need also to be taken into consideration in the development of a global earth observation system (GEO BON; Biodiversity Observation Network) to which I contribute as expert in the working group for terrestrial species monitoring.
Co-operations / Projects
I closely collaborate, amongst other groups, with ECOLAB at the University of Toulouse III.
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