Journal of Insect Conservation, 2018, Vol.22(5), pp.731-743
Insect conservation needs sound information on species distribution trends. Developing this evidence relies—in practice—on long-term engagement of volunteers who observe and record species over large spatial and temporal scales. Many biodiversity monitoring schemes, including those for insects, are highly dependent on conservation-based citizen science programs with a long-term continuity. As these schemes are built entirely on good will, the nature of social relations and networks is pivotal to success. We assess the working mechanism of a monitoring scheme that is citizen-based as a case study. The German Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (hereafter TMD for “Tagfalter-Monitoring Deutschland”) operates, as many other citizen science monitoring schemes, through an overarching national network of regional subnetworks of volunteers and a central scientific coordination. Using a questionnaire survey paired with a visual social network assessment, we investigate how participants interact within these networks and assess their motivations to engage. We characterise the functionality of this social network based on mechanism of coordination and participation, flows of information and knowledge exchange among recorders, regional and central coordinators, academic scientists and institutions. By analyzing the interactions, we show how the social network facilitates and ensures various communication modes and thereby fosters long-term engagement, stability and growth of the scheme. We identify the central role of project coordination and the importance of social relations within citizen-based monitoring programs for engagement and personal satisfaction. Based on our empirical study, we derive a set of recommendations for establishing and maintaining successful volunteer networks in insect citizen-based monitoring programs.
Social network analysis ; Insect conservation ; Citizen science ; Biodiversity monitoring ; Motivation ; Butterflies
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