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Philadelphia Field Station

Citizen Science and Participatory Research

[photo:] Intern Sarah Tse learning the science of tree measurements. Photo taken by Jason Henning, Davey Tree.Citizen Science is the use of volunteers or practitioners in data collection. Often participants, or citizen scientists, are trained to carry out a particular protocol for their data collection. The data that are collected increases the data collection capacity of a research project. As technology improves, it is becoming even easier to include volunteers in data collection. Not only do volunteers increase the data collection capacity, but they become active participants in the scientific process. Involving stakeholders --regional residents, managers and practitioners, and youth in the research at every level is a key component of how the Philadelphia Field Station team implements activities.


Network for Research-Practice Dialogue About Tree Growth, Mortality and Longevity

The Urban Tree Growth & Longevity (UTGL) working group is a network for research-practice dialogue in urban forestry. It is affiliated with the Arboriculture Research & Education Academy of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Lara Roman, a member of the executive committee of UTGL and researcher at Philadelphia Field Station (PFS), organized a special symposium at the ISA 2014 annual conference about UTGL projects. As part of her work and in conjunction with UTGL members around the country, she is developing monitoring standards to help communities monitor their trees with a common set of core variables and, thereby, more easily share their data with others. More information is available at www.urbantreegrowth.org

Accuracy and Consistency Across Urban Tree Field Crews

Lara Roman is leading a six-city study to evaluate accuracy and sources of error among field crews of varying experience levels collecting street tree inventory data, such as consistency with species identification and diameter at breast height measurements. The cities and partners are: Philadelphia, PA (US Forest Service and University City Green); Lombard, IL (Morton Arboretum); Washington, DC (Casey Trees); Grand Rapids, MI (Friends of Grand Rapids Parks); Tampa, FL (University of Florida); and Malmö, Sweden (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences). This project grew from the UTGL working group discussed above, with a new field guide and training modules intended to be accessible for citizen scientist volunteers and minimally trained interns. Results are being used to enhance quality assurance procedures, training materials, and evaluate the appropriate uses and limitations of urban tree data generated by citizen scientists. Dan Betz, a fellow of the PFS, coordinated the Philadelphia field teams and is working on data analysis and field crew experience surveys.