Importance of the work of volunteers in biodiversity

With the development of citizen sciences platforms and applications, like iNaturalist, eBird or the Herbonautes, the involvement of volunteers in the collect, digitalization and quality improvement of data is drastically increasing. The vast majority of occurrences published on GBIF are observations, mostly collected through citizen science applications and initiatives. In university and museum collections, volunteers work is often a big part of the digitalization effort. In the Marie-Victorin herbarium (University of Montréal), the digitalization is mostly done by volunteers from the “Amis du Jardin Botanique de Montréal” (Friends of the Montréal Botanic Garden). Without these amazing and highly-involved volunteers the digitalization of the herbarium would not be where it is now.

A group of researchers from UdeM and UQAM Communication Departments focused their research on the importance of the works of volunteers in biodiversity. Lorna Heaton, Florence Millerand, Patricia Dias da Silva et Serge Proulx have worked with the volunteers from the Marie-Victorin Herbarium in order to understand the influence of their work in the digitalization of the herbarium and in biodiversity in general. Conclusions from their research have been published in a book published by the University of Montréal Press: “La reconfiguration du travail scientifique en biodiversité” (available in French only).

If you want to learn more about this project, a short article and interview is available on the website of the journal Forum (journal of the University of Montréal): “Observer les oiseaux et alimenter la science”.