Harnessing the collective intelligence of stakeholders for conservation

Steven Gray, Payam Aminpour, Caitie Reza, Steven Scyphers, Jonathan Grabowski, Robert Murphy, Alison Singer, David Baltaxe, Rebecca Jordan, Antonie Jetter, Joshua Introne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Incorporating relevant stakeholder input into conservation decision making is fundamentally challenging yet critical for understanding both the status of, and human pressures on, natural resources. Collective intelligence (CI), defined as the ability of a group to accomplish difficult tasks more effectively than individuals, is a growing area of investigation, with implications for improving ecological decision making. However, many questions remain about the ways in which emerging internet technologies can be used to apply CI to natural resource management. We examined how synchronous social-swarming technologies and asynchronous “wisdom of crowds” techniques can be used as potential conservation tools for estimating the status of natural resources exploited by humans. Using an example from a recreational fishery, we show that the CI of a group of anglers can be harnessed through cyber-enabled technologies. We demonstrate how such approaches – as compared against empirical data – could provide surprisingly accurate estimates that align with formal scientific estimates. Finally, we offer a practical approach for using resource stakeholders to assist in managing ecosystems, especially in data-poor situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-472
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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