Citizen science provides added value in the monitoring for coastal non-indigenous species
Maiju Lehtiniemi, Okko Outinen, Riikka Puntila-Dodd https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479720305405 Continuous and comprehensive monitoring is one of the most important practices to trace changes in the state of the environment and target management efforts. Yet, governmental resources are often insufficient for monitoring all required environmental parameters, and therefore authorities have started to utilize citizen observations to supplement and increase the scale of monitoring. The aims of the present study were to show the potential of citizen science in environmental monitoring by utilising citizen observations of the non-indigenous Harris mud crab Rhithropanopeus harrisii in Finnish waters, where coastal monitoring is insufficient to estimate the distribution and spread of non-indigenous species. Harris mud crab has shown measurable impact locally and is considered invasive. For reporting the status of invasions to national and European authorities and planning for potential eradication efforts, up to date knowledge on NIS ranges are needed. Citizen observations on the species were collected from the first observation onwards between 2009 and 2018, at first via email and later through an active citizen observation web portal (Invasive Alien Species Portal). The outcomes of the study indicate that species-specific citizen observations can be a beneficial addition to supplement national monitoring programs to fulfill legislative reporting requirements and to target potential management. Recognizable species and geographical areas with low biodiversity provide a good opportunity to utilize citizen observations. Moreover, citizen observations may enable distribution assessments for certain species that would otherwise require excessive resources and sampling efforts.