Volunteer-Collected Data in Published Research Papers
(Adapted from an article by Eleanor Ely in The Volunteer Monitor, Summer 2008 issue, Vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 8-11. Full article available on the Environmental Protection Agency's Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds website.)
The aim in assembling the list below was to identify those articles that make the very strongest case for the acceptance and use of volunteer-collected water-monitoring data in the scientific literature. Accordingly, all articles on this list met the following rather stringent criteria:
1. They are research articles (not abstracts).
2. They are published in peer-reviewed journals (no book chapters, conference proceedings, agency reports, etc.).
3. Volunteers generated actual data (i.e., they measured or identified something) as opposed to simply collecting water samples.
4. The volunteer-generated data made a significant contribution to the research.
5. The use of volunteer-collected data is explicitly acknowledged and described in the article.
All the listed articles report on physical, chemical, or biological research (i.e., social science studies are not included), and all focus on water quality, aquatic organisms, or other water-related science.
Some additional publications, which did not meet all of the above criteria, may be found at the bottom of the page
Validation studies published in peer-reviewed journals are listed separately.
|Type of data volunteers collected
||Published research papers
|Water temperature and salinity
Zhang, Y., F.X. Fu, E. Whereat, K.J. Coyne, and D.A. Hutchins. 2006. Bottom-up controls on a mixed-species HAB assemblage: A comparison of sympatric Chattonella subsalsa and Heterosigma akashiwo (Raphidophyceae) isolates from the Delaware Inland Bays, USA. Harmful Algae 5(3):310-320.
Field data collected by the Delaware Inland Bays Volunteer Phytoplankton Monitoring Program on temperature and salinity during blooms of two phytoplankton species were used to supplement professional scientists' data obtained in lab cultures of these species.
|Secchi depth and salinity
Ott, J.A., R.M. Duffy, S.E. Erickson, K.S. Fuhr, B.A. Rodgers, and M.A. Schneider. 2006. Comparison of light limiting water quality factors in six Florida aquatic preserves. Florida Scientist 69(00S2):73-91.
The study uses six years of monthly Secchi and salinity data from eight estuaries collected by the Charlotte Harbor Estuaries Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network. www.charlotteharbornep.org
|Identification or characterization of aquatic organisms
||Delaney, D.G., C.D. Sperling, C. Adams, and B. Leung. 2008. Marine invasive species: Validation of citizen science and implications for national monitoring networks. Biological Invasions 10:117-128. The crab distribution and abundance findings reported in this article are all based on volunteer data.
Ellis, S.L., and D.F. Cowan. 2001. Volunteer-based monitoring of juvenile American lobster, Homarus americanus. Marine and Freshwater Research 52(8):1103-1112. Article reports volunteer-collected density, size, and abundance data on juvenile lobsters in Maine.
Hodgson, G. 1999. A global assessment of human effects on coral reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin 38(5):345-355. All data for this research study were collected by teams of trained recreational divers with the Reef Check program. Participants identified indicator organisms (fish and invertebrates) and substrate types. www.reefcheck.org/about_RC_Reef/Publications.php
Note: For some of the studies volunteers also collected and processed (including filtration for chlorophyll) water samples that were later analyzed by professionals.
|Bruhn, L.C., and P.A. Soranno. 2005. Long term (1974-2001) volunteer monitoring of water clarity trends in Michigan lakes and their relation to ecoregion and land-use/cover. Lake and Reservoir Management 21(1):10-23. This study uses Secchi data from Minnesota's Citizen Lake Monitoring Program to analyze trends on 71 lakes.
Heiskary, S.A., and C.B. Wilson. 1989. The regional nature of lake water quality across Minnesota: An analysis for improving resource management. Journal of the Minnesota Academy of Science 55(1)71-77. This analysis of hundreds of Minnesota lakes uses Secchi data collected between 1977 and 1987 by Minnesota's Citizen Lake Monitoring Program.
Macdonald, R.H., G.A. Lawrence, and T.P. Murphy. 2004. Operation and evaluation of hypolimnetic withdrawal in a shallow eutrophic lake. Lake and Reservoir Management 20(1):39-53. A 9-year Secchi depth dataset collected by volunteer monitors was the main data used in evaluating the effects of a drawdown on a Canadian lake.
Smeltzer. E., and S.A. Heiskary. 1990. Analysis and applications of lake user survey data. Lake and Reservoir Management 6(1):109-118. Secchi disk readings by the Vermont Lay Monitoring Program and Minnesota’s Citizen Lake Monitoring Program, as well as professional chlorophyll and total phosphorus measurements on volunteer-collected water samples, were paired with user perceptions of lake quality. www.pca.state.mn.us/publications/reports/lqr-lakeusersurvey.pdf
Smeltzer, E., R.A. Kirn, and S. Fiske. 1999. Long-term water quality and biological effects of alum treatment of Lake Morey, Vermont. Lake and Reservoir Management 15:173-184. The study used Secchi data from the Vermont Lay Monitoring Program. www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/waterq/lakes/docs/lp_morey-alum-jlrm1999.pdf
Secchi depth; Florida
All the listed papers
heavily or exclusively
View PDFs (Click on Dan Canfield or Roger Bachmann.)
Note: In most cases volunteers also collected and processed water samples, including filtering samples for chlorophyll.
|Bachmann, R.W., C.A. Horsburgh, M.V. Hoyer, L.K. Mataraza, and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 2002. Relations between trophic state indicators and plant biomass in Florida lakes. Hydrobiologia 470:219-234.
Bachmann, R.W., M.V. Hoyer, and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 2003. Predicting the frequencies of high chlorophyll levels in Florida lakes from average chlorophyll or nutrient data. Lake and Reservoir Management 19(3):229-241.
Brown, C.D., M.V. Hoyer, R.W. Bachmann, and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 2000. Nutrient-chlorophyll relationships: An evaluation of empirical nutrient-chlorophyll models using Florida and north-temperate lake data. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 57:1574-1583.
Caffrey, A.J., M.V. Hoyer, and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 2007. Factors affecting the maximum depth of colonization by submersed macrophytes in Florida lakes. Lake and Reservoir Management 23:287-297.
Hoyer, M.V., J. Winn, and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 2001. Citizen monitoring of aquatic bird populations using a Florida lake. Lake and Reservoir Management 17(2):82-89. Note: The second author is a volunteer monitor! According to lead author Mark Hoyer, the volunteer made many significant contributions to the manuscript.
Hoyer, M.V., C.D. Brown, and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 2004. Relations between water chemistry and water quality as defined by lake users in Florida. Lake and Reservoir Management 20(3):240-248.
Hoyer, M.V., C.A. Horsburgh, Daniel E. Canfield, Jr., and Roger W. Bachmann. 2005. Lake level and trophic state variables among a population of shallow Florida lakes and within individual lakes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 62:2760-2769.
Hoyer, M.V, J.L. Donze, E.J. Schulz, D.J. Willis, and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 2006. Total coliform and Escherichia coli counts in 99 Florida lakes with relations to some common limnological factors. Lake and Reservoir Management 22(2):141-150.
Terrell, J.B., D.L. Watson, M.V. Hoyer, M.S. Allen, and D.E. Canfield, Jr. 2000. Temporal water chemistry trends (1967-1997) for a sample (127) of Florida waterbodies. Lake and Reservoir Management 16(3):177-194.
Volunteer Monitoring Validation Studies Published in Science Journals
(Adapted from an article by Eleanor Ely in The Volunteer Monitor, Summer 2008 issue, pp. 8-11. Full article available on the Environmental Protection Agency's Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds website.)
The following studies evaluate the validity of methods or equipment used by volunteer monitors and/or the volunteers' performance.
It is important to note that a large number of volunteer monitoring validation studies have been conducted. Only a small percentage of them are included in the list below, which is limited to studies that have been published in peer-reviewed journals.
Method or equipment studied
Anderson, P., and R.D. Davic. 2004. Use of transparency tubes for rapid assessment of total suspended solids and turbidity in streams. Lake and Reservoir Management 20(2):110-120.
Engel, S., and J. Reese Voshell. 2002.
Volunteer biological monitoring: Can it accurately assess the ecological
condition of streams?" American Entomologist 48(3):164-177. www.usawaterquality.org/volunteer/RelatedResearch/Engel&VoshellAmerEnto20021.pdf
Fore, L.S., K. Paulsen, and K. O'Laughlin. 2001. Assessing the performance of volunteers in monitoring streams. Freshwater Biology 46:109-123. www.seanet.com/~leska/publications/Fore_Paulsen_OLaughlin_2001.pdf
Frost Nerbonne, J., and B. Vondracek. 2003. Volunteer macroinvertebrate monitoring: Assessing training needs through examining error and bias in untrained volunteers. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 22(1):152-163. http://www.fw.umn.edu/Research/nerbonne&vondracek03.pdf
Gowan, C., M. Ruby, R. Knisley, and L. Grimmer. 2007. Stream monitoring methods suitable for citizen volunteers working in the Coastal Plain and Lower Piedmont regions of Virginia. American Entomologist 53(1):48-57.
Penrose, D., and S. M. Call. 1995. Volunteer monitoring of benthic macroinvertebrates: Regulatory biologists' perspectives. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 14(1):203-209.
| (Secchi reading, chlorophyll filtration, freezing of water samples, etc.)
Canfield, D.E., Jr., C.D. Brown, R.W. Bachmann, and M.V. Hoyer. 2002. Volunteer lake monitoring: Testing the reliability of data collected by the Florida LAKEWATCH program. Lake and Reservoir Management 18(1):1-9.
Obrecht, D.V., M. Milanik, B.D. Perkins, D. Ready, and J.R. Jones. 1998. Evaluation of data generated from lake samples collected by volunteers. Journal of Lake and Reservoir Management 14(1):21-27. www.lmvp.org/documents/HTML/Obrecht1998.htm
||Delaney, D.G., C.D. Sperling, C. Adams, and B. Leung. 2008. Marine invasive species: Validation of citizen science and implications for national monitoring networks. Biological Invasions 10:117-128.
(egg mass counts, tadpole identification)||Oscarson, D.B., and A.J.K. Calhoun. 2007. Developing vernal pool conservation plans at the local level using citizen-scientists. Wetlands 27(1):80-95.
|Reef fish length estimates
||Harvey, E., D. Fletcher, and M. Shortis. 2001. A comparison of the precision and accuracy of estimates of reef-fish lengths determined visually by divers with estimates produced by a stereo-video system. Fishery Bulletin 99:63-71.
Additional Examples of Publications Referencing Volunteer Data
The list below contains some publications that were not included in The Volunteer Monitor (Summer 2008 issue) or in the above list of "Volunteer Data in Peer-Reviewed Research Articles" because they failed to meet one or more of the criteria. However, these publications do provide additional examples of volunteer monitors' contributions to scientific research.
Havel, J.E. and K.R. Pattinson. 2004. Spatial distribution and seasonal dynamics of plankton in a terminal multiple-series reservoir. Lake and Reservoir Management 20(1):14-26. [Introductory discussion references Lakes of Missouri Volunteer Program data summary report; not clear what volunteer data were used.]
Heiskary, Steven A. and William W. Walker Jr. 1995. Establishing a chlorophyll a goal for a run-of-the-river reservoir. Lake and Reservoir Management 11(1):67-76.
Heiskary, Steven A. and William W. Walker Jr. 1988. Developing phosphorus criteria for Minnesota lakes. Lake and Reservoir Management 4(1):1-9.
Kesler, David H., Teresa J. Newton, and Linda Green. 2006. Long-term monitoring of growth in the Eastern Elliptio, Elliptio complanata (Bivalvia: Unionidae), in Rhode Island: A transplant experiment. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 26(1):123-133. [Uses data from University of Rhode Island Watershed Watch but this is not clearly stated in article.]
Mcnicol, D.K., M.L. Mallory, and H.S. Vogel. 1995. Using volunteers to monitor the effects of acid precipitation on Common Loon (Gavnia immer) reproduction in Canada: The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 85(2): 463-468. [Basically a bird monitoring study, but with a water angle.]
Obrecht, Daniel, Anthony P. Thorpe, and John R. Jones. 2005. Responses in the James River Arm of Table Rock Lake, Missouri (USA) to point-source phosphorus reduction. Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 29:1043-1048. [Role of volunteers limited to collection of water samples.]
Shertzer, R.H., D.W. Hall, S.A. Steffy, and R.A. Kime. 1998. Relationships between land uses and rain water quality in a southeastern Pennsylvania watershed. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 34(1):13-26. [Role of volunteers limited to collection of water samples.]
Smeltzer, E. 1990. A successful alum/aluminate treatment of Lake Morey, Vermont. Lake and Reservoir Management 6:9-19. http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/waterq/lakes/docs/lp_morey-alum-jlrm1990.pdf . [Used phosphorus and chlorophyll data from Vermont Lake Lay Monitoring Program but this is not clearly stated in article.]
Smeltzer, E. 1999. Phosphorus management in Lake Champlain. In Manley, T.O. and P.L. Manley, eds. Lake Champlain in transition: From research toward restoration. American Geophysical Union. Water Science and Application 1. Washington, D.C. http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/waterq/lakes/docs/lp_phosmanage99.pdf. [Book chapter as opposed to peer-reviewed research article. Volunteers collected samples for total phosphorus but this is not clearly stated.]
Stadelmann, T.H., P.L. Brezonik and S. Kloiber. 2001. Seasonal patterns of chlorophyll a and Secchi disk transparency in lakes of east-central Minnesota: Implications for design of ground- and satellite-based monitoring programs. Lake and Reservoir Management 17(4):299-314. [Article mentions collection of chlorophyll and Secchi data by a "citizen-assisted monitoring program."]
Wilderman, C. and C. Reusse. 1990. Analysis of patterns and causes of variation in alkalinity concentrations in Pennsylvania streams during 1989, using data collected by of the Alliance for Acid Rain Monitoring (ALLARM). Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 64 (April):210. [Abstract of conference presentation.]
Wilderman, C., K. Vorhees, and L. Imgrund. 1999. The spatial distribution of stream vulnerability to acid deposition in Pennsylvania and its relationship to local watershed characteristics, based on a decade of volunteer monitoring by the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM). In The effects of acid deposition on aquatic ecosystems in Pennsylvania, ed. William E. Sharpe and Joy R. Drohan. University Park, PA: Environmental Resources Research Institute. [Book chapter as opposed to peer-reviewed research article.]
Tuesday, 27-Nov-2012 10:40:26 CST