location data: Open, Obscured, Private?

There is an excellent essay on this topic by David Lindenmayer and Ben Scheele** in the journal Science, vol. 356, issue 6340 of May 26, 2017, page 800. If you have online access, visit www.sciencemag.org, search term "Do Not Publish". If you don't, contact me and i can send you a copy.
Turns out, poaching IS a problem. And more than that, enthusiastic nature-seekers will degrade habitat and disrupt animal behaviors in their zeal to see a rare organism. The authors also stress that an invasion of nature tourists can badly compromise the researcher/landowner relationship which is hard-earned and built on trust.
A brief quote:
"Biologists must urgently unlearn parts of their centuries-old publishing culture and rethink the benefits of publishing location data and habitat descriptions for rare and endangered species to avoid unwittingly contributing to further species declines."
Personally, i obscure everything. All the time. And this irritates some people sometimes. But project admins CAN see location coordinates that i have obscured; Joe Hunting Rifle does not need to.
Not everybody agrees with me. If you don't want to take a look at the essay, please at least consider the issues.

** Threatened Species Recovery Hub, National Environmental Science Program, Fenner School of Environment and society, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Posted on Ιούλιος 22, 2017 0137 ΠΜ by ellen5 ellen5


It is indeed an interesting article. I'm an "open location" sort of person though. The vast majority of the species I post are super common and the poaching risks or risks of nature over-enthusiasm is minimal, in my opinion. I do wonder how much of that risk is statistically proven -- in other words, I wonder just how many of the common species are actually poached from published research... I post the exact location of a fox squirrel, and only the lousiest squirrel hunter would actually use my location data, I think.

When I worked in the herbarium at BRIT, there was an extensive orchid collection, especially from the tropics. In all honesty, the only poaching that went on was the botanists that collected the specimens for vouchers! Perhaps doing digital vouchers is much more environmentally conscious than specimen vouchers?

I do think that habitat distruction is by far more threatening than poaching or nature tourism. I suppose I just haven't seen much actual poaching of the things that I post -- instead, I've seen folks that go to see some of the things that I post with their really specific locations, and I'm ok with that.

Just my two cents! :)

Αναρτήθηκε από sambiology σχεδόν 7 χρόνια πριν

All good points. And yes, we DO intrude. Even treading lightly, i'm still scaring the bejeesus out of some creature, stepping on who knows what, crushing that cryptogamic soil...

Αναρτήθηκε από ellen5 σχεδόν 7 χρόνια πριν

Thanks for sharing this article, and they make a important point. However, they do not recommend obscuring everything. I think iNat strikes a good balance by obscuring rare and endangered species. In addition, when I was in Texas I added a conservation rank to SGCN that might be potential targets for poaching. For most species the precise locations provide more conservation value than risk of impact. It is important to keep this in mind. Maintaining a good relationship with landowners is a separate but related issue brought up by the essay, I often obscure or make private the locations of observations on private land based on the wishes of the private landowner. The important thing is to be transparent with private landowners. More often than not I find that landowners would prefer to have access to the unobscured locations.

Αναρτήθηκε από cullen σχεδόν 7 χρόνια πριν

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