Citizen Science

Citizen Science

ALA Citizen Science Central

Resources and tools for Australia’s biodiversity science projects

‘Citizen’-based contributions to mainstream scientific investigations are becoming increasingly important. Technology is helping to facilitate this by enabling projects to be more accessible to the public, providing greater effectiveness of communications between scientific practitioners and citizen scientists, and providing accessible data collection and management tools which improve the flow and quality of data.

For the Atlas, citizen science is a very important source of data about biodiversity. Data and insights gained through the efforts of citizen scientists can be as valuable as those obtained by scientists working in academia, natural history collections, government agencies and business. Harnessing the enthusiasm, interest and efforts of the thousands of people participating in citizen science will continue to enhance the range and depth of data available for analysis and research.

Browse Citizen Science projects and get involved today.

Browse Citizen Science projects

What is ‘citizen science’?

The Open Scientist website offers this definition of citizen science: ‘The systematic collection and analysis of data, determination of technology, testing of natural phenomena, and the dissemination of these activities by researchers on a primarily avocational basis.’ For Australia’s biodiversity, it is the participation of anyone who is not a practising acologist, taxonomist, or biological scientist, in the collection of biodiversity related data.

Discovery Circle’s Oaklands Wetlands Bioblitz 2014 (Oaklands, South Australia)

Get involved in citizen science

Sometimes citizen science projects are run as short campaigns, such as bioblitzes, and sometimes they are ongoing data collection projects. You can get as involved as much or as little as you like, but in all cases your sightings are valued contributions to the scientific knowledge and the national biodiversity database.

Start recording the organisms in your own area and on your travels, and join thousands of other people in building Australia’s biodiversity knowledge. Get yourself on the Citizen Science Leader Board by recordign more different species as you can.

Browse Citizen Science projects

There are several ways for you to participate in citizen science:

  • Add your sightings of plants or animals directly into the Atlas of Living Australia
  • Contribute your sightings to one of the many citizen science projects currently happening in different areas of Australia. These range from species specific projects (eg. Koala counts, frogwatch, etc.) to regional or national multi-species themed projects (eg. FeralScan, ACT and Southern Tablelands Weedspotter, Waterwatch, etc.), or regional atlases (eg. the Atlas of Life in the Coastal Wilderness).
  • If you have skills in identifying organisms, why not join BowerBird and help other people identify their sightings.
  • Join the fun and interesting projects in DigiVol which are using crowdsourcing to digitise all sorts of resources into data which can be searched and analysed to improve our knowledge of biodiversity and the natural world.
  • Get involved in the Australian Citizen Science Association or a group which is already running citizen science projects, such as one of the ALA affiliates.

Download the new Australian BioBlitz Guidelines developed by members of the Australian Citizen Science Association.

BioBlitz logo 252x256

Tips & Tricks

It can often be difficult to accurately identify a sighting out in the field and identifying organisms to species level can be challenging even for experts in some groups of organisms. Below are some tips and tricks to help even the most seasoned Citizen Scientist improve their contributions.

Improve your nature photography

Including good quality photos with your sighting record is important to support both the quality of your record and the correct identification if you need to seek help in identifying the specimen. Nature photography can also be fun and rewarding in itself. A quick search on the internet will provide lots of fantastic resources to help improve your photographic skills.

Take great photos of small things

Many organisms are very small and correct identification may require really good close-up (macro) photos, sometimes from several angles. For insects, sharp photos of heads, mouth parts and reproductive organs are also important.

A search on the internet such as this will find several helpful tips on taking sharp macro natural photos.

Try to identify it yourself

There are a couple of identification support tools available on the internet. These tools are constantly being updated and improved, but they can be difficult to use, particularly for non-taxonomists.

Lucid keys

Affiliates of Citizen Science

Australian Museum

The Australian Museum is home to the Australian Museum Centre for Citizen Science and has had a long history in citizen science projects. The museum currently manages, with collaborators, some of Australia’s most well known and best loved citizen science projects such as Bushblitz, Bioblitz and Streamwatch. The Museum also partners with the Atlas in the creation and management of the hugely successful Digivol digital volunteering program; where volunteers from all over the globe can delve into the Australian Museum collection transcribing the data, so it is discoverable online for anyone to access anywhere in the world.

Australian Museum logo

Queensland Museum

Insert QM description here.

QM logo

Museum of Victoria

Insert MoV description here.

The Discovery Circle

Insert Discovery Circle description here.


Australian Citizen Science Association

Be a part of The national citizen science adovcacy and community discussion forum.

Join the conversation