The Accuracy of Behavioural Data Collected by Visitors in a Zoo Environment: Can Visitors Collect Meaningful Data?

Williams, Rachel L and Porter, Sue K and Hart, Adam G and Goodenough, Anne E (2012) The Accuracy of Behavioural Data Collected by Visitors in a Zoo Environment: Can Visitors Collect Meaningful Data? International Journal of Zoology, 2012. pp. 1-13. ISSN 1687-8477

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Abstract

Volunteer data collection can be valuable for research. However, accuracy of such data is often a cause for concern. If clear, simple methods are used, volunteers can monitor species presence and abundance in a similar manner to professionals, but it is unknown whether volunteers could collect accurate data on animal behaviour. In this study, visitors at aWetlands Centre were asked to record behavioural data for a group of captive otters bymeans of a short questionnaire. They were also asked to provide information about themselves to determine whether various factors would influence their ability to collect data. Using a novel analysis technique based on PCA, visitor data were compared to baseline activity budget data collected by a trained biologist to determine whether visitor data were accurate. Although the response rate was high, visitors were unable to collect accurate data. The principal reason was that visitors exceeded the observation time stated in the instructions, rather than being unable to record behaviours accurately. We propose that automated recording stations, such as touchscreen displays, might prevent this as well as other potential problems such as temporal autocorrelation of data and may result in accurate data collection by visiting members of the public.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Natural & Social Sciences > Environmental Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Environmental Dynamics & Governance
Depositing User: Anne Goodenough
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2016 09:59
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2016 22:38
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3342

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