The Role of Citizen Science in Ecosystem Management: A Case Study of the Middle Rio Grande Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program

Date: 2023/04/01

Author(s): Miller, H.

Publication: University of New Mexico Thesis



Rapid advances in technology, especially smart phones, have changed citizen science around the world. Citizen science-generated data are growing exponentially, so there is increasing interest about what is happening with all this data. Some research suggests that governmental agencies are not using citizen science data to make ecosystem management decisions, although other studies contradict this finding. Regionally, the Middle Rio Grande bosque ecosystem extends for 162 miles along the Rio Grande in New Mexico. The Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, or BEMP, was founded in 1996 following the efforts of the Bosque Initiative and the development of the Bosque Biological Management Plan in 1993. The objective of this research is to understand how BEMP data are incorporated into the ecosystem management framework. Interviews were conducted with known BEMP data users at local and federal agencies who are responsible for managing natural resources in the study area to learn more about how managers are applying BEMP data to their decision-making processes. A review of publicly available ecosystem management plans that cover the extent of the ecosystem supports this investigation. Interview findings suggest that BEMP data plays a strong role in ecosystem management decisions and is widely used across the ecosystem by various management agencies, specifically related to restoration projects. Recommendations are offered to the State and BEMP to improve MRG bosque ecosystem outcomes and citizen science program efficiency.