Last week, Earthwatch’s Freshwater Research Manager Isabel Bishop nipped to Zagreb, Croatia to hobnob with Europe’s finest freshwater scientists and to give a presentation at SEFS. This large scientific conference brought together over 800 freshwater researchers from Europe and around the world to share knowledge, exchange ideas and experiences, and have a good time.
The focus of the conference this year was on interdisciplinary research, and this included a special session on the links between natural and social science. Isabel spoke in this session about the different ways FreshWater Watch has been used to engage different types of audiences, ranging from ‘inquisitive users’, who only upload one sample, to ‘super-users’, who have uploaded at least 20 samples (for more information on this ‘long tail of participation’ among FreshWater Watch users, see this recent publication). For ‘inquisitive users’, she introduced the WaterBlitz method as a way to harness mass participation to collect useful data on water quality across a catchment. For ‘super-users’, she focused on co-created citizen observatories like the VattenFokus group in the GroundTruth 2.0 project.
Of the ~500 talks given during the week, Isabel’s was the only one about citizen science and she came away feeling that she had exposed a new audience to the subject. She also had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Plitvice Lakes, where she demonstrated FreshWater Watch to numerous researchers from across the continent who, having heard her speak, are now interested in incorporating citizen science into their work.