Advantages of Volunteer-Based Biodiversity Monitoring in Europe [Ventajas del monitoreo de biodiversidad basado en voluntarios en Europa]

Dirk Schmeller, Pierre-Yves Henry, Romain Julliard, Bernd Gruber, Jean Clobert, Frank Dziock, Szabolcs Lengyel, Piotr Nowicki, Eszter Déri, Eduardas Budrys, Tiiu Kull, Kadri Tali, Bianca Bauch, Josef Settele, Chris van Swaay, Andrej Kobler, Valerija Babij, Eva Papastergiadou, Klaus Henle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

283 Citations (Scopus)


Without robust and unbiased systems for monitoring, changes in natural systems will remain enigmatic for policy makers, leaving them without a clear idea of the consequences of any environmental policies they might adopt. Generally, biodiversity-monitoring activities are not integrated or evaluated across any large geographic region. The EuMon project conducted the first large-scale evaluation of monitoring practices in Europe through an on-line questionnaire and is reporting on the results of this survey. In September 2007 the EuMon project had documented 395 monitoring schemes for species, which represents a total annual cost of about 4 million euro, involving more than 46,000 persons devoting over 148,000 person-days/year to biodiversity-monitoring activities. Here we focused on the analysis of variations of monitoring practices across a set of taxonomic groups (birds, amphibians and reptiles, mammals, butterflies, plants, and other insects) and across 5 European countries (France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, and Poland). Our results suggest that the overall sampling effort of a scheme is linked with the proportion of volunteers involved in that scheme. Because precision is a function of the number of monitored sites and the number of sites is maximized by volunteer involvement, our results do not support the common belief that volunteer-based schemes are too noisy to be informative. Just the opposite, we believe volunteer-based schemes provide relatively reliable data, with state-of-the-art survey designs or data-analysis methods, and consequently can yield unbiased results. Quality of data collected by volunteers is more likely determined by survey design, analytical methodology, and communication skills within the schemes rather than by volunteer involvement per se.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-316
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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