Using Social Media for Ecosystem Observations: Practical Approaches, Analyses and How-to Tips for Scientists and Resource Managers

Thursday, August 21, 2014: 8:40 AM
301B (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey , Public Policy, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Mary Fuka , EnPhysica, LLC, Boulder, CO
Daniel Fuka , Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
M. Todd Walter , Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Zachary Easton , Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Science communication has changed dramatically in recent years as new communication tools have proliferated in this age of electronic connectivity. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the value social media provides, both for communicating science and from mining useful observations of the natural world (e.g., crowd-sourcing, citizen science). One of the most widely used new communication tools is Twitter, a microblogging site that enables users to read and send ≤140 character text-based messages called tweets. With nearly 60 million daily tweets and 2.1 billion Twitter search engine queries per day, how can scientists sort through the ‘firehose’ and find useful information? Using aquatic and terrestrial examples we present information on how data from Twitter can 1) supplement existing databases, 2) identify outlier phenomena, 3) guide additional crowd-sourced studies and data collection efforts, 4) recruit citizen scientists, 5) help gauge sentiment about the observations and 6) inform ecosystems policy-making and education. Additionally, we provide information on potential uses and analyses, how-to tips and lessons learned on gleaning useful information from social media, digesting it in a meaningful way and applying it to solving various system-wide problems.