ABSTRACT

Citizen science has become popular for data collection in ecology and environmental management. However, most participants in citizen science projects are only involved for a short period of time. Understanding the reasons behind this dropout rate is important for improving long term participation. Here we investigated participation rates in TurtleSAT, an Australian turtle mapping app aimed at collecting data useful for conservation efforts. First, we looked at the TurtleSAT database to examine the number of participants and how many sightings each had uploaded. Then, we distributed an online questionnaire to all TurtleSAT participants and asked what inspired them to participate, if they found the app easy to use, and whether they were still active in the project. Out of 75 respondents, 21 said they were currently not active participants. Their reasons for not participating anymore included lack of time, technical issues, and a perception of high turtle abundance that indicated conservation efforts are unnecessary. The motives that originally inspired their participation were not significantly linked to them leaving the project. We propose possible solutions to some of the issues identified, such as offering online tutorials and a hotline to solve technical issues, a more direct link from the TurtleSAT app to news and academic articles regarding turtles, and establishing an online forum to maintain engagement.

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