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Keywords:

  • Biodiversity indicators;
  • citizen science;
  • data collection;
  • environmental education;
  • people involvement;
  • values-led conservation

Abstract

Aim  We assess whether and how datasets collected by the general public, so-called citizen science programmes, can improve biogeographical studies and contribute to large-scale conservation target-setting.

Location  Worldwide.

Methods  We first set a general framework highlighting the prerequisites of a relevant dataset for conservation biogeography. We then illustrate how many different citizen science programmes currently running in different countries can be placed within this framework.

Results  We highlight that citizen science is particularly useful to address issues spanning large temporal and spatial extents. We then show how datasets based on citizen science can be used to investigate major aspects of global change impacts on biodiversity. We further highlight why these programmes are also particularly valuable in developing the preventative and educational component of conservation biogeography.

Main conclusions  Conservation biogeography requires considerable amounts of data collected over large spatial and/or temporal extents. Beyond increasing technical advances to collect and analyse these data, citizen science seems to be a highly valuable tool in many aspects. However, while citizen science programmes are now popular and increasingly used in several countries, they are lacking in many others. We argue that the development of citizen science programmes should be encouraged as they can both be highly valuable for conservation biogeography and promote the reconnection between people and nature and more generally between people and science.