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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Temporal trends in opportunistic citizen science reports across multiple taxa

Knape, Jonas; Coulson, Stephen James; van der Wal, Rene; Arlt, Debora


Opportunistic reporting of species observations to online platforms provide one of the most extensive sources of information about the distribution and status of organisms in the wild. The lack of a clear sampling design, and changes in reporting over time, leads to challenges when analysing these data for temporal change in organisms. To better understand temporal changes in reporting, we use records submitted to an online platform in Sweden (Artportalen), currently containing 80 million records. Focussing on five taxonomic groups, fungi, plants, beetles, butterflies and birds, we decompose change in reporting into long-term and seasonal trends, and effects of weekdays, holidays and weather variables. The large surge in number of records since the launch of the, initially taxa-specific, portals is accompanied by non-trivial long-term and seasonal changes that differ between the taxonomic groups and are likely due to changes in, and differences between, the user communities and observer behaviour.


Citizen science data; Motivation; Observer behaviour; Sampling bias

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2022, Volume: 51, number: 1, pages: 183-198
Publisher: SPRINGER