14. Citizen science and its apps in biodiversity conservation

Brendon Larson, University of Waterloo, Canada;

We live in an era where humans are causing the mass extinction of other species. To provide information about endangered ecologies to better conserve biodiversity, natural scientists now rely on distributed knowledge collected by millions of citizen scientists around the world. Oftentimes, these citizen scientists are utilizing new mobile applications ('apps'), such as eBird and iNaturalist – among many others – to collect data, network, and even identify species. This panel seeks critical perspectives on this new era of biodiversity documentation. While these high-tech practices facilitate knowledge and claim to facilitate 'connection to nature', they also serve as an increasingly obligatory passage point that prioritizes certain types of expertise and knowledge claim – especially those required for biodiversity big data analytics. What are the risks of this technoscience – in terms of intellectual property, technological mediation of nature, and the enrolment of the public, among other factors – and how might insights from STS help to harness these new approaches in the interest of solidarity and endangered ecologies?

Contact: blarson@uwaterloo.ca

Keywords: Controversies, Data and Quantification, Environmental/Multispecies Studies, Anthropocene, big data, biodiversity conservation, citizen science, extinction, technoscience

Published: 04/07/2023