Through participatory science, researchers call on society to help them collect, sort and sometimes even analyze data. This fieldwork, sometimes time-consuming, is essential for all scientific research, and is made easier thanks to digital technology.
Websites and smartphone applications now allow to create direct links between researchers and citizens: Photos, GPS coordinates, observations, etc. Everyone can participate in a research program by following a simple protocol. Certain programs are intended for all laypersons, other for professionals. Here are some examples that exist in France in the field of agriculture, food and fisheries.
Pl@ntnet: Identifying plant biodiversity
Pl@ntnet is a smartphone application that allows users to identify plants through their camera. The more users takes photos of plants the more information there will be – which is useful for botanists – on the distribution of different species on the planetary scale. Pl@ntnet can also meet the needs of professionals: A farm can identify plants found on their land in order to find out if they are useful or pests for their crops.
Alamer: Observing climate changes through algae
Alamer is part of a vast program of participatory science of the French National Museum of Natural History – Vigie-Nature. In what ways are the algae species left over on the beach after low tided different from one beach to another or over the course of the seasons? How do they reflect the composition of marine habitats and the impact of climate change on the marine ecosystem? These are all questions scientists hope to answer with this program.
A protocol was developed to take stock of the algal and animal composition of the debris left by the sea on France’s coasts along the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. After having downloaded the practical guide to know how to recognize species, anyone can then participate in the Alamer program.
Bakery: The program that brings together researchers and bakers
38 researchers and 42 bakers are working together to describe the diversity of the French bakery practices. From the variety of cultivated wheat, to the methods of kneading, each bread is different and carries specific tastes and nutritional qualities. This program helps to preserve the richness of the French bakery heritage and to fight against the standardization of tastes.