Citizen Science to assess the conservation status of NE Atlantic marine forests

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Oceans and Lakes
AIMS: The establishment of high quality protocols for Citizen Science (CS) has allowed pioneer initiatives to effectively deliver important scientific information about the distribution of species, while saving time and valuable resources. Such initiatives further promote effective environmental education by sharing fieldwork experience and scientific data with the general public and regional stakeholders. The aim of this task is to promote a set of CS initiatives to deliver crucial information about the distribution of NE Atlantic marine forests. This is a task in the framework of the European project MARFOR. METHODS: CS initiatives will be developed throughout the European coastlines following the implementation of Assis et al. (2009). This framework is based on bridging and training different stakeholders (e.g., coastal users and small local business) that collaborate as field observers to deliver pictures and field records of marine biodiversity and changes in aquatic environments. Information will focus on marine forests from the intertidal to subtidal environments, particularly in regions poorly surveyed such as southern latitudinal range edges or deep cryptic refugia, where marine forests are known to exist but in small elusive patches. Reporting will be centralized on a webpage. Training will be assured by online catalogues with reference illustrations and discussion boards, which allow in-depth collaboration among researchers. The spatial visualisation capacities inherent to present-day web-based technologies (e.g., open source GIS such as google maps) alongside with social networking will be a unique opportunity to enhance citizen’s enthusiasm to contribute with biodiversity data (e.g., Assis et al., 2009). The MSc student will analyse all data (pictures and record logs), deliver a spatial database and discuss the distribution of marine forests as well as the opportunities and disadvantages of citizen science initiatives. EXPECTED RESULTS: Information about the distribution of marine forests, which will assist the development of correlative predictive models for present and future times.
this thesis can be developed in different European countries. It is an advantage if the student speaks the language of the country, in order to speak easily with the general public. So students are encouraged to work in their own native countries.
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Other people involved: 
Ester Serrão (, other partners of project MARFOR
Reference Number: RP-49061