Social Media as Citizen Science Platforms for Monitoring Road-Kills of Wildlife in Taiwan.

present in 5th International Wildlife Management Conference, Session "Road Ecology in Asia: Current State of the Science of Impacts and Mitigation,", 2015.07.28, Sapporo, Japan

Authors: Te-En Lin, Shih-Wei Chang, Chih-Yun Chen, Yu-Kai Chen, Tyng-Ruey Chuang, Dong-Po Deng, Cheng-Hsin Hsu, Jheng-Jhang Li, Da-Li Lin, Lucien C. H. Lin, Guan-Shuo Mai, Kwang-Tsao Shao, Cheng-Te Yao


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 road-kills have not been conducted in Taiwan. To increase public participation in scientific research of road ecology and understand the severity of road-kills, we launched a Facebook group “Reptile Road Mortality” as a citizen science platform in 2011. We encouraged public to record road-kills and upload the information including photo, date and location to the Facebook group, and help our institute to collect bodies of road-kill victims. Through the platform, we successfully increased public attention to road impacts on animal populations. Group members increased 9 times from 800 people in the first year, to ~7000 people within 3 years. In the past 3 years, 1,526 contributors upload 20,828 records of road kills for terrestrial wildlife, mainly located at suburban areas with elevation <1,000 m. Total 373 species were identified, and the majority (52%) were reptiles, followed by birds (19%), with a few species of mammals (11%), amphibians (9%), and land crabs (9%). The platform has contributed tremendous amount of data of road kills that produced the largest database for native reptiles in Taiwan (9,573 records), and provided an alternative source of specimens for research and monitor of rabies and pesticide residue. We suggest that, with systematic methods and appropriate analyses, social media such as Facebook pose a great opportunity to incorporate citizen science in road ecology research.

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