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Citizen Science and MPA Monitoring:

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  1. Informing adaptive management through enriched local knowledge systems Snapshot of Citizen Science Groups in the Central Coast Introduction Citizen Science in the Central Coast BeachCombers Beach Watch Black Oystercatcher Monitoring (Audubon) California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program California King Tides Elkhorn Slough algae monitoring Elkhorn Slough Nestbox Monitoring Elkhorn Slough otter monitoring Elkhorn Slough Shorebird monitoring First Flush - Monterey Bay Grunion Greeters iNaturalist iSeahorse Jellywatch Leatherback Watch LightHawk LiMPETS Marine Debris Tracker Morro Bay Volunteer Monitoring Program Otter Project - MPA Watch Phytoplankton Monitoring Network Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) REEF volunteer surveys ReefCheck CA Save Our Shores Beachkeepers Shark Savers SharkWatch SPLASH Surfrider Blue Water Task Force Urban Watch - Monterey Bay What kind of people participate? Each program looks different.Some restrict volunteering to particular groups. But most do not, and have a random mix of ages and experiences included. Leaders tell us groups get more diverse over time. The California Citizen Science Initiative: Opportunity We know that citizen science can provide the rigorous scientific information needed to monitor the statewide network of marine protected areas, but successfully engaging citizen scientists and programs is often challenging. In California’s Central Coast we have an opportunity to expand and deepen the links between citizen science and MPA monitoring. As the Central Coast regional network turns the page from baseline to long-term monitoring, we are taking stock of the range of citizen science programs operating in the region, seeking new ways we can work together, and developing a framework to guide ongoing collaboration. Citizen Science and MPA Monitoring: Groups are structured for different amounts of participation. Contributory projects involve volunteers in data collection, while collaborative involves them in data interpretation and co-created is a partnership through the whole research process. Amy Freitag, Aaron McGregor, Ryan Meyer, Liz Whiteman California Ocean Science Trust • Approach • Interviews with program coordinators • Focus groups with ‘super volunteers’ and program staff • Participant observation of fieldwork • Literature review of citizen science and management Each group has varied program goals and uses for their data. These can be generally classified according to these goals – action that advocates for change, conservation supporting stewardship activities, investigation for new scientific understanding, education for scientific literacy,and virtual engaging an online community. Connecting Citizen Science to Management Citizen science groups engage with management in myriad ways. We are finding it helpful to think about these on two spectra: Deliberate vs serendipitous. Is the management connection purposeful engagement or happy accident? Cooperative vs advocacy. Is the management connection based on a partnership with managers, or an application of external political pressure? Case studies from the literature and the Central Coast provide a range of examples across these spectra, which we can consider as we work toward a framework for involving citizen science in MPA monitoring. • Lessons from the Citizen Science Literature • While specific links between citizen science and management can be cultivated, there are some basic attributes of citizen science that must be met first: • Verification of data quality • Raw data transparency and access • Willingness and capability to adapt methods • Clarity of language used to communicate Next Steps This research is ongoing; our end goal is to develop a framework that guides involvement of citizen science programs in MPA Monitoring. We are doing this collaboratively through continued engagement with groups in the Central Coast. We hope that this framework can be applied to other regions in the California MPA network, and serve as a resource for citizen scientists and managers more broadly. To learn more, and to follow our progress, visit our blog at www.oceanspaces.org/blog. Successful or neutral strategies from literature Unsuccessful strategies from literature Central Coast groups, overall program goals Acknowledgements to our funders, the Packard Foundation and Allen Fish for the header photograph