SW Publication - How much effort is enough?

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SW Publication - How much effort is enough?

Working with Dr. Clare Embling from Plymouth University, we have shown how valuable our data are with our first peer-reviewed publication: ‘How much effort is enough? The power of citizen science to monitor trends in coastal cetacean species’. (See full paper as attached)
Shorewatch data can be used to detect trends between years in bottlenose dolphin presence at a single location in the Moray Firth (at our WDC Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay) and between sites within the Moray Firth. At sites with more regular dolphin sightings, lower numbers of watches were required to detect that overall bottlenose dolphin presence was going up or remaining steady. Where sightings were less regular, more watches were required to show trends. We initially investigated only bottlenose dolphins and sites within the Moray Firth because this is our largest dataset. It is exciting to show that our data can be used to detect trends because, over the long term, this is how we will determine changes - whether due to climate, human activities or other factors. But this is only a first step; we must now continue to collect and analyse our data until we can show similar results using data from wider sites and varied species!
As a trained Shorewatcher following a specific protocol, you are producing data of similar reliability as using experts to do the same watches. And, as a group, we have managed to do well over 35,000 watches from sites all around the Scottish coastline since 2010 (from Spey Bay since 2005)! Congratulations and fantastic work!