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Contributions of paraecologists and parataxonomists to research, conservation, and social development

Schmiedel, Ute; Araya, Yoseph; Bortolotto, Maria Ieda; Boeckenhoff, Linda; Hallwachs, Winnie; Janzen, Daniel; Kolipaka, Shekhar S.; Novotny, Vojtech; Palm, Matilda; Parfondry, Marc; Smanis, Athanasios and Toko, Pagi (2016). Contributions of paraecologists and parataxonomists to research, conservation, and social development. Conservation Biology, 30(3) pp. 506–519.

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12661
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Abstract

Citizen science has been gaining momentum in the United States and Europe, where citizens are literate and often interested in science. However, in developing countries, which have a dire need for environmental data, such programs are slow to emerge, despite the large and untapped human resources in close proximity to areas of high biodiversity and poorly known floras and faunas. Thus, we propose that the parataxonomist and paraecologist approach, which originates from citizen-based science, is well suited to rural areas in developing countries. Being a paraecologist or a parataxonomist is a vocation and entails full-time employment underpinned by extensive training, whereas citizen science involves the temporary engagement of volunteers. Both approaches have their merits depending on the context and objectives of the research. We examined 4 ongoing paraecologist or parataxonomist programs in Costa Rica, India, Papua New Guinea, and southern Africa and compared their origins, long-term objectives, implementation strategies, activities, key challenges, achievements, and implications for resident communities. The programs supported ongoing research on biodiversity assessment, monitoring, and management, and participants engaged in non-academic capacity development in these fields. The programs in Southern Africa related to specific projects, whereas the programs in Costa Rica, India, and Papua New Guinea were designed for the long term, provided sufficient funding was available. The main focus of the paraecologists' and parataxonomists' activities ranged from collection and processing of specimens (Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea) or of socioeconomic and natural science data (India and Southern Africa) to communication between scientists and residents (India and Southern Africa). As members of both the local land user and research communities, paraecologists and parataxonomists can greatly improve the flow of biodiversity information to all users, from local stakeholders to international academia.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2016 The Authors
ISSN: 1523-1739
Keywords: biodiversity assessment; development cooperation; natural resource management; non-academic capacity development; participatory research; wildland conservation;
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 47341
Depositing User: Yoseph Araya
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2016 14:09
Last Modified: 02 May 2019 00:39
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/47341
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