Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.5751/ES-12861-270238
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) The benefits of counting butterflies - recommendations for a successful citizen science project
Author Kühn, E.; Becker, M.; Harpke, A.; Kühn, I. ORCID logo ; Kuhlicke, C.; Schmitt, T.; Settele, J.; Musche, M.
Journal Ecology and Society
Year 2022
Department BZF; SUSOZ; NSF; iDiv
Volume 27
Issue 2
Page From art. 38
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Data and Software links
Keywords COVID-19 pandemic; gender gap; insect decline; intrinsic motivation; monitoring
Abstract Citizen science (CS) projects, being popular across many fields of science, have recently also become a popular tool to collect biodiversity data. Although the benefits of such projects for science and policy making are well understood, relatively little is known about the benefits participants get from these projects as well as their personal backgrounds and motivations. Furthermore, very little is known about their expectations. We here examine these aspects, with the citizen science project German Butterfly Monitoring as an example. A questionnaire was sent to all participants of the project and the responses to the questionnaire indicated the following:

• Most transect walkers do not have a professional background in this field, though they do have a high educational level, and are close to retirement, with a high number of females;
• An important motivation to join the project is to preserve the natural environment and to contribute to scientific knowledge;
• Participants benefit by enhancing their knowledge about butterflies and especially their ability to identify different species (taxonomic knowledge);
• Participants do not have specific expectations regarding the project beyond proper management and coordination, but have an intrinsic sense of working for a greater good. The willingness to join a project is higher if the project contributes to the solution of a problem discussed in the media (here, insect decline).

Based on our findings from the analysis of the questionnaire we can derive a set of recommendations for establishing a successful CS project. These include the importance of good communication, e.g., by explaining what the (scientific) purpose of the project is and what problems are to be solved with the help of the data collected in the project. The motivation to join a CS project is mostly intrinsic and CS is a good tool to engage people during difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic, giving participants the feeling of doing something useful.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Kühn, E., Becker, M., Harpke, A., Kühn, I., Kuhlicke, C., Schmitt, T., Settele, J., Musche, M. (2022):
The benefits of counting butterflies - recommendations for a successful citizen science project
Ecol. Soc. 27 (2), art. 38