eBird: Assessing the Application of Large Scale Citizen Science Data and Data Collection Strategies for Local Management Use
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eBird, a citizen-science program developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon, allows users to enter bird sightings from around the world in order to develop a large scale data set for research. This study seeks to analyze eBird data and methods in order to determine if the data collected is robust enough to be usable as a basis for habitat management and, if so, to what extent. This is accomplished through a comparison of Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) (a threatened shorebird of management concern) counts, trends, and methodologies made through a survey following a strict protocol versus data collected by eBird in three different areas (Bolivar Flats, Apfel Park, and San Luis Pass). Using descriptive statistics such as mean counts, counts adjusted for effort, and frequency, and confirming with Kruskal-Wallis tests, variation was found between eBird and survey data. eBird contained lower counts of Piping Plovers and a lower sighting frequency than survey data. When adjusting counts as a function of effort, similar results were found. Piping Plovers were found not to occur frequently at Bolivar Flats (9 birds over 2 surveys), while Apfel Park and San Luis Pass showed similar but inconclusive results. This study ultimately determined that, while of great use on large scales, use of eBird data on the local level, should be used with caution. Further study should be done to investigate sources of variation and methods to increase the effectiveness of eBird on small scales.
Riddle, Thomas Carroll 1984- (2012). eBird: Assessing the Application of Large Scale Citizen Science Data and Data Collection Strategies for Local Management Use. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from