Trade‐offs in moving citizen‐based anuran call surveys online during the SARS‐CoV‐2 pandemic: Lessons from rural Appalachia, USA

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2020-08-15
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Wiley
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Citizen science approaches provide adaptable methodologies for enhancing the natural history knowledge of understudied taxa and engaging underserved populations with biodiversity. However, transitions to remote, virtual training, and participant recruitment in response to public health crises like the SARS‐CoV‐2 pandemic have the potential to disrupt citizen science projects. We present a comparison of outputs from a citizen science initiative built around call surveys for the Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona), an understudied anuran, in Appalachian Virginia, USA, prior to and during the SARS‐CoV‐2 pandemic. A transition to virtual training in this initiative did not lead to a decrease in scientific output and led to unexpected natural history insight about our focal taxon; however, a reliance on virtual instruction did decrease overall participation by local residents, particularly for rural K‐12 students. We discuss the trade‐offs exhibited by the adaptation of our initiative to a virtual format and provide recommendations for other citizen science initiatives facing similar restrictions in the face of current and future public health crises.

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