Citizen science and communication about species redistribution in Australia: what audience is the Redmap Australia project connecting with?

Natalie Bauer1, Curtis Champion2, Stuart Frusher2,3, John Keane2, Prof Gretta Pecl2,3, Jemina Stuart-Smith2, Cecilia Villanueva2,3

1Tuft’s University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, , United States, 2Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, Australia, 3Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia


Although climate change is clearly an increasingly important global issue, there is still significant misunderstanding and lack of public understanding about the existence of climate change and its implications for future life on earth. Communication and engagement with the general public is a critical step towards generating awareness with the aim of ultimately facilitating community interest and action on climate change.  Citizen science is one approach that involves two-way communication and dialogue between the public and scientists to engage people on climate change. However, citizen science projects need to identify exactly who they are connecting with and to develop a better understanding of their audience – particularly if the project is widespread geographically and connecting with different user groups. Redmap Australia, the Range Extension Database and Mapping Project, is a citizen science project that invites fishers and divers around Australia to send in photographic observations of species observed outside their expected distribution. The two key goals of the project are 1/to generate early indications of which marine species may be shifting their distributions and 2/ engage with the public on marine science issues, including the contentious issue of climate change – using their own observations. Data submitted to Redmap Australia has been used in over 25 journal articles, many of which have been instrumental in describing climate change impacts in Australian seas. The project has been formally evaluated as being successful with engagement and communication, however, we lack detailed information on who the project is reaching and where any critical gaps or room for improvement may be. To determine who exactly this project is connecting with, we examine various social media platforms, the main website, newsletter subscribers, and the fishers and divers sending in observations. Through analytic tools, we are able to discover and evaluate the geographic distribution, age, gender, and interests of our audience. This study has revealed how different platforms are connecting with distinctive user groups and has highlighted the significance of utilizing multiple platforms to connect with diverse target groups and expand our range of interest in hopes of eliciting effective responses.


Bio to come

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