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Ecohealth. 2015 Dec;12(4):693-702. doi: 10.1007/s10393-015-1054-z. Epub 2015 Aug 29.

Citizen Science and Wildlife Disease Surveillance.

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Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY, UK.
Froglife, 1 Loxley, Werrington, Peterborough, PE4 5BW, UK.
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY, UK.


Achieving effective wildlife disease surveillance is challenging. The incorporation of citizen science (CS) in wildlife health surveillance can be beneficial, particularly where resources are limited and cost-effectiveness is paramount. Reports of wildlife morbidity and mortality from the public facilitate large-scale surveillance, both in time and space, which would otherwise be financially infeasible, and raise awareness of incidents occurring on privately owned land. CS wildlife disease surveillance schemes benefit scientists, the participating public and wildlife alike. CS has been employed for targeted, scanning and syndromic surveillance of wildlife disease. Whilst opportunistic surveillance is most common, systematic observations enable the standardisation of observer effort and, combined with wildlife population monitoring schemes, can allow evaluation of disease impacts at the population level. Near-universal access to digital media has revolutionised reporting modalities and facilitated rapid and economical means of sharing feedback with participants. Here we review CS schemes for wildlife disease surveillance and highlight their scope, benefits, logistical considerations, financial implications and potential limitations. The need to adopt a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to wildlife health surveillance is increasingly recognised and the general public can make a significant contribution through CS.


Opportunistic; Scanning; Syndromic surveillance; Systematic; Targeted

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