Long-term data are essential for understanding how ocean species, communities, and habitats change over time. Citizen science programs like the REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project make it possible for us to collect data that spans a large area and/or period of time. Meanwhile, other types of scientifically-collected data tend to be project-specific and are often tied to short funding periods, and these challenges are particularly true for environments that are difficult to sample, such as nearshore ocean habitats. A new scientific paper published last month in the journal Fisheries used REEF survey data from British Columbia, Canada, to evaluate the utility of the REEF dataset for addressing information gaps in certain species. REEF volunteers have been active in this area since 1998, providing a valuable dataset about the marine life found there.
The paper shows how citizen science data from REEF can be used to answer scientific questions via case studies. The first case study examines Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) population responses to management decisions, and the second is on detecting the abundance pulses of various rockfish species (Sebastes spp.) young-of-year, or rockfish species that are less than a year old. The results of these case studies suggest that data from REEF, despite limitations, can be used to improve our understanding of nearshore marine ecosystems. It's another great example of how REEF members and citizen scientists are making a difference! To view this paper and see a summary of all scientific papers that have used REEF data and programs, visit www.REEF.org/db/publications.
The full citation of the paper is: Campbell, J, J Yakimishyn, D Haggarty, F Juanes, S Dudas. 2022. Citizen Science Surveys Provide Novel Nearshore Data. Fisheries. Sept 2022. doi:10.1111/fsh.10831