Place: 4274 Chamberlin (refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Ben Zuckerberg, UW Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
Abstract: For more than a hundred years, ecology relied on carefully planned field studies focusing on a few species for a few years on a few parcels of land. These studies advanced numerous theories on how species interact with their environment, but the early 21st century ushered in a new era in the use of "big data" in ecology. Big data broadly describes large complex datasets arising from advancements in information technology and data acquisition. For ecologists, the most important stream of big data comes from citizen science programs that enlist the public in collecting observations of the natural world. Citizen scientists, equipped with both old tools (binoculars) and new technologies (smartphones), regularly collect data on where species occur across the world and are essential for documenting the ecological impacts of environmental change. I will present our recent work on the use of citizen science for studying impacts of urbanization and climate change on bird communities, and discuss the successes and challenges of big data ecology.