Researchers and citizens for the assessment of the conservation status of cetaceans in the Lazio Region

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Citizens' involvement in environmental monitoring activities is a topic of great interest, both in ISPRA and in the entire National System for Environmental Protection (SNPA), the application of Citizen Science on traditional issues, such as sea, biodiversity, nature, soil, is now consolidated and for many years successful projects have been carried out in ISPRA. Interest is also growing towards the exploration of new fields of action and new approaches, also taking into account technological innovation that provides tools and applications that were once not available, and the increasingly dominant role of social media.
Researchers and citizens for the assessment of the conservation status of cetaceans in the Lazio Region

Citizen Science, is not only a valid support for the monitoring and collection of significant amounts of data on environmental matrices, is also an important tool to raise public awareness on environmental issues, and in some cases, it allows rapid reporting of critical situations that they require the activation of official monitoring (sentinel monitoring). In this scenario is included the project on the assessment of the conservation status of cetaceans.

Data collected by researchers from various Italian scientific bodies, including the University of Sapienza and ISPRA, and by citizens, allowed to provide a first state of knowledge on cetaceans of the Lazio Region and obtain information on the presence of species and the habitats. A study has just been published that uses in an integrated way data sources coming from conventional research protocols and information obtainable from social media. The work developed a methodology for the study of cetacean populations based on visual and acoustic data collected by researchers in the context of structured research campaigns and systematic presence records taken from photographs and videos published by tourists and operators maritime on the main social media.

Over 10 years, from 2008 to 2017, information was gathered on almost 1.300 whale and dolphin sightings, of which more than half were due to reports posted on social media

Seven of the eight species of cetaceans that regularly reside in the Mediterranean have been reported in the sea area facing the Lazio Region, although with considerable differences in their frequency. The data were used to build forecasting models of the most suitable areas and habitats for the different species, make possible to identify the most important areas on which to focus conservation actions.

The publication is available from this link :

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