Rapid development of road systems represents a serious threat to wildlife worldwide. However, general public are not aware of ecological impacts of roads, and large-scale surveys of roadkills have not been conducted in Taiwan. To increase public participation in scientific research of road ecology and understand the severity of roadkills, we launched a Facebook group “Taiwan Roadkill Observation Network” as a citizen science platform in August 2011. We encouraged public to record roadkills and upload the information including photo, date and location to the Facebook group, and help our institute to collect bodies of roadkill victims. Through the platform, we successfully increased public attention to road impacts on animal populations. There are 4,045 contributors, which have recorded 563 species and 79,889 observations throughout the past 7 years. Also 1,032 participants have collected and delivered 7,193 bodies of wildlife for our Institute. Those bodies now are one of very important source for wildlife conservation research, rabies and avian influenza monitor. However, data from opportunistic crowdsourcing is limited, as it is not methodological or statistically robust. Importantly, this opportunistic data is inherently biased cannot be used to accurately predict the annual amount of roadkill occurrences in Taiwan, where the real roadkill hot spots are, or the differences in trends between seasons and years. To amend our current statistical shortcomings in the TaiRON database, we have divided Taiwan to 1,440 25 sqkm grids, seven eco-regions, three levels of road density, and four categories of road types. A total 420 sampling grids were selected by stratified random sampling methods with proportional allocations from every eco-region and road density level. The volunteer citizen scientists are given their pick of the 420 grids to sample. All of the sampling grids must be surveyed in January, April, July and October per annum. Citizen scientists are required to survey two or more road types in every sampling grid, and every route must be longer than 3 km. This program started this past January, 2018. 247 grids have been confirmed and more than 1,708km roads surveyed. We are also conducting roadkill survey method bias studies between different modes of transportation, including walking, cycling, riding a motorcycle, and driving a car. The TaiRON citizen science group continues to grow, and we believe volunteers from social media are a rich source of engaged citizens for scientific research.
Keywords: Facebook, rabies, systematic roadkill survey, Taiwan Roadkill Observation Network