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Monitoring through many eyes: Integrating scientific and crowd-sourced datasets to improve monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef

08/15/2018
by   Erin E Peterson, et al.
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Data in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are collected by numerous organisations and rarely analysed together. We developed a weighted spatiotemporal Bayesian model that integrate datasets, while accounting for differences in method and quality, which we fit to image based, hard coral data collected by professional and citizen scientists. Citizens provided underwater images and classified those images. We used the model to make coral-cover predictions across the GBR with estimates of uncertainty. A simulation study was undertaken to investigate how citizen-science data affects model outputs as participation increases. The citizens average classification accuracy (79 percent) was relatively high compared to marine scientists (assumed 100 percent), but variability in most participants accuracy was also high. Though, a large number of citizens (greater than 1000) must classify images before their data affects model outputs. Including additional data increased the models predictive ability by 43 percent, suggesting that a loss of much-needed management information occurs when data are not integrated.

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