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WSB: Personal benefits help attract citizen scientists

Cara J

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Researchers in Michigan found that citizen scientists were more likely to use a recently launched citizen science phone app when they saw personal benefits from doing so. In a study published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, researchers with help from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources launched and used an app called MI-MAST to collect information on hard and soft mast production that many species, such as bears ,rely on. “The Michigan DNR recognized that many wildlife species respond to hard and soft mast production,” said TWS member Gary Roloff, an associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University, who coauthored the study led by his graduate student Alex Killion. “Mast production can vary across large spatial and short time scales, and the DNR had no way to collect consistent information statewide.” The team launched a pilot of the MI-MAST program in 2015, allowing citizen scientists to input data on hard and soft mass in Michigan, then fully launched it in 2015. “We hit a lot of speed bumps along the way in developing the program,” Roloff said, including successfully marketing the program to get citizens involved. They found that people were less likely to [...]

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