Fostering a people's forest: using Citizen Science-driven biodiversity monitoring to understand restoration processes
Ecosystem restoration takes place over a longer time scale than the typical ecological study, particularly when the ecosystem includes slow-growing taxa, such as trees. Yet, humans take strong interest in ecosystem restoration- both as a process to participate in (i.e. contributing to tree planting and Citizen Science), and as a process to measure (i.e. asking “is our restoration activity working?”). This project examines both of these facets through restoration activities within former surface mine sites at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We use the lens of beetle communities observed through participatory models of data collection to examine how functional groups of organisms can give information on how an ecosystem is operating. With the help of community members, we will conduct “bio-blitzes” and systematic sampling to document Coleoptera communities within 5 sites undergoing restoration, and their surrounding forest at CVNP. We will then use these communities to describe the functional ‘health’ of their surrounding landscape. This project will also examine how effectively citizen scientists contribute to ecological research within a national park and what implications this may have on future ecological research. We will combine these data with observations from public databases (iNaturalist) and use these data to effectively map the ‘health’ of mature and restored forest within CVNP– with respect to beetle community composition - providing a means to assess the effectiveness of Citizen Science on supporting ecological research.
Pace, Cheyan K. and Bahlai, Christie A. PhD(2019). Fostering a people's forest: using Citizen Science-driven biodiversity monitoring to understand restoration processes. Environmental Science & Design Research Initiative. Paper 37.