Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Applied citizen science in freshwater research

January 17, 2022

Worldwide, scientists are increasingly collaborating with the general public. Citizen science methods are readily applicable to freshwater research, monitoring, and education. In addition to providing cost-effective data on spatial and temporal scales that are otherwise unattainable, citizen science provides unique opportunities for engagement with local communities and stakeholders in resource management and decision-making. However, these methods are not infallible. Citizen science projects require deliberate planning in order to collect high data quality and sustain meaningful community partnerships. Citizen science practitioners also have an ethical responsibility to ensure that projects are not putting the safety of participants at stake. We discuss here how citizen science is being applied in freshwater research, emerging challenges in project planning and implementation, as well as how citizen science is shaping public understanding, policy, and management of freshwaters.