• Open Access

Understanding the Determinants of Volunteer Retention Through Capture-Recapture Analysis: Answering Social Science Questions Using a Wildlife Ecology Toolkit

Authors

  • Christopher Beirne,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK
    2. Centre for Ecology & Conservation, School of Biosciences, University Exeter (Cornwall Campus), Cornwall, UK
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Xavier Lambin

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK
    • Correspondence

      Xavier Lambin, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ, UK.

      Tel: +44 (0)1224 273259.

      E-mail: x.lambin@abdn.ac.uk

    Search for more papers by this author

  • Editor Krithi Karanth

Abstract

Scientists and conservationists increasingly rely on contributions by volunteers recruited from the wider public to work over large and ecologically meaningful spatial scales. Optimizing working in partnership with unpaid, volunteer citizen scientists and conservationists requires an understanding of the determinants of volunteer retention rates and how they are affected by management practices. To this effect, we present the novel use of the mark-recapture framework widely used in wildlife demography in order to quantify volunteer retention probabilities. We illustrate the versatility and power of the approach using a project that removed invasive American mink from 10,000 km2 in Scotland in partnership with volunteer citizen conservationists recruited from local communities. Wide scale adoption of the mark-recapture framework to analyze volunteer management will give novel insights into how volunteers interact with the conservation projects they are involved in and provide evidence for their optimal management.

Ancillary