Skandobs – The Scandinavian predator tracking system

Interaction Type public->government->public
Trigger Event Collection of observations for lynx, wolverine, brown bear and wolf which can be used by agencies in Scandinavia to increase their knowledge about where species live and how large populations are in Scandinavia.
Domain Citizen contribution to the Skandobs database. The Skandobs database is jointly managed by Rovdata Norway and the Swedish EPA.
Organisation Rovdata is an independent part of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
Actors Rovdata in Norway and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
Data sets in use Citizens are responsible for submitting their observations to Skandobs. A Google maps based visualisation tool is also available to allow map-based visualisation of the Skandobs database.
Process Using either smartphone applications or the Skandobs website contributors can submit their observations (geographical data is required with each observation). Anonymous submissions are not allowed. All contributors who wish to see their contributions listed on the website and stored in the Skandobs database must register on the website.
Feedback The number of observations in the database is updated every 15 minutes on the website. A table provides summary information of the total number of observations, this year’s observations, and this month’s observations. League tables of the top contributors by individual submissions and top contributors by municipality.
Goal There is a need in Scandinavia to collect observations for lynx, wolverine, brown bear and wolf which can be used by agencies in Scandinavia to increase their knowledge about where species live and how large populations are in Scandinavia.
Side effects Increasing expectations from NGOs, media, and the public who want information on numbers and distribution of carnivore populations in their countries.
Contact Point

There is a need in Scandinavia to collect observations for lynx, wolverine, brown bear and wolf which can be used by agencies in Scandinavia to increase their knowledge about where species live and how large populations are in Scandinavia. There is now new legislation with International conventions and directives driving this requirement. Collecting reliable observations on these carnivore populations help to inform management objectives including long-term conservation and population-level management. However, monitoring is both complicated and expensive for many reasons. It is simply not possible for either ROVDATA or the Swedish EPA to have the resources required to provide monitoring of these species in Scandinavia. One of the reasons is the geographical size of the area under observation.

Citizen can make contributions to the Skandobs database. The Skandobs database is jointly managed by Rovdata Norway and the Swedish EPA. It contains geospatial timestamped observation data on sightings of lynx, wolverine, brown bear and wolf in Scandanavia. There is higher priority placed on certain predator sightings. For these observations it is desirable that the sightings are also reported by telephone to the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO) if the observation is made in Norway and the County Administrative Board if the observation is made in Sweden: The higher priority sightings include: cubs or adult with cubs; wolves outside the normal distribution range; or any dead predators. The Skandobs database is jointly maintained by two national agencies. Rovdata is an independent part of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) with its own board and staff. Rovdata provide monitoring data and population numbers for lynx, wolverine, brown bear, wolf and golden eagles to the Norwegian public, media and management authorities. Rovdata are responsible to convey and develop the national monitoring program for large carnivores. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is the agency in Sweden who has an overview of how the environment is doing, how the environmental work goes and has the task of coordinating the work of Sweden’s environmental objectives. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is also central authority for hunting and wildlife management issues. Citizens can submit their observations to Skandobs at any time. They can submit observations using iPhone or Android smartphone applications or through the Skandobs website. The Skandobs database is made available for download via a search interface on the website. A Google maps based visualisation tool is also available to allow map-based visualisation of the Skandobs database.

The Google Maps interface for accessing citizen observations in the Skandobs database. Different colour markers indicate the status of the observation
The Google Maps interface for accessing citizen observations in the Skandobs database. Different colour markers indicate the status of the observation

 

Observations which are submitted to the website are subjected to internal validation. These observations are reviewed by SNO / County Administrative Board and when validation is completed they are assigned a validation status which appears in the list of observations. Observations rated by SNO / County Administrative Board will also be added to ROVBASE which is the primary database for national population monitoring data in Norway and Sweden. Observations which are not rated by SNO / County Administrative Board will not be added to ROVBASE. All of the observations which are submitted must be quality assured and if they are validate they are reused in other contexts. The website stresses that it is very important that the observations contain the highest level of detail possible. The addition of photographs and additional information is encouraged. Contributors are reminded that the observations in Skandobs is primary data. The number of observations in the database is updated every 15 minutes on the website. A table provides summary information of the total number of observations, this year’s observations, and this month’s observations. Observation totals are provided for wolves, bears, wolverines, and lynx.

Main Lessons

  • The number of observations in the database is updated every 15 minutes on the website. A table provides summary information of the total number of observations, this year’s observations, and this month’s observations. Observation totals are provided for wolves, bears, wolverines, and lynx.
  • Sweden and Norway currently merge monitoring and inventory systems and Skandobs helps to foster greater involvement of the public in this monitoring.
  • Observations submitted are encouraged to contain the highest level of detail possible. This can include photographic evidence and/or video/sound.
  • There are concerns about the potential bias in the observational data. For example because there is greater population density in Southern Sweden there will be more observations there yet there will be far less in Northern Sweden. This problem of in-homogeneous distribution of observations/observers is a problem in citizen science and VGI.

 
References:

EPA Network Workshop – Citizen Science 12 -13 March 2013

Increasing involvement of the public in large-scale monitoring of large carnivores across Scandinavia – Eva Thörnelöf, SEPA Sweden

http://epanet.ew.eea.europa.eu/ad-hoc-meetings/epa-network-workshop-citizen-science-12-13-march-2013/eva-thornelof_-sepa-sweden.pdf

 

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