Publication details

Plant hunting: exploring the behaviour of amateur botanists in the field


MARCENO' Corrado PADULLES CUBINO Josep CHYTRÝ Milan GENDUSO Emanuele GRISTINA Alessandro Silvestre LA ROSA Alfonso SALEMI Dario LANDUCCI Flavia PASTA Salvatore GUARINO Riccardo

Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Biodiversity and Conservation
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Digital platforms; EVA; Facebook; iNaturalist; Landscape analysis; Sicily
Description We asked what are the behavioural and logistic preferences of professional and amateur botanists when exploring flora in the field. We extracted temporal and spatial data on vascular plant species occurrences from three datasets of Sicilian flora: a subset of iNaturalist, a dataset collected by a Facebook group focused on the flora of Sicily and a subset of the professional database European Vegetation Archive. We used the time span of individual contributor's activity as a proxy of their commitment to collecting information about the flora of Sicily. Climate and landscape data were used to better characterize the spatial and temporal activity of data contributors. Finally, we assessed which habitat types were more frequently visited in each dataset. Our results suggest that amateur botanists can be divided into two categories, "experienced" and "occasional", playing different roles on digital platforms. While experienced amateur botanists are characterized by prolonged activity and many posts, occasional ones have short and erratic activity but collectively compile more data than the former category. The occasional botanists represent a new phenomenon in data collection, supported by the spread of digital platforms. While in the past, experienced botanists were primarily involved in biodiversity data collection, at present, they also play a fundamental role in validating the observations by occasional botanists and disseminating floristic knowledge to them. Our study points out that the interaction through social media can catalyze the establishment of participatory monitoring networks, promote conservation-oriented initiatives and influence policy-makers.
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