- Environmental monitoring -- West (U.S.),
- Environmental sciences -- Research -- Citizen participation,
- Freshwater invertebrates -- Monitoring,
- Biology -- Documentation
The purpose of this investigation was to systematically examine the variability associated with temporally-oriented invertebrate data collected by citizen scientists and consider the value of such data for use in stream management. Variability in invertebrate data was estimated for three sources of variation: sampling, within-reach spatial and long-term temporal. Long-term temporal data were also evaluated using ordinations and an Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI). Through two separate investigations over an 11-year study period, participants collected more than 400 within-reach samples during 44 sampling events at three streams in the western United States. Within-reach invertebrate abundance coefficient of variation (CV) ranged from 0.44–0.50 with approximately 62% of the observed variation strictly due to sampling. Long-term temporal CV ranged from 0.31–0.36 with 27–30% of the observed variation in invertebrate abundance related to climate conditions (El Niño strength) and sampling year. Ordinations showed that citizen-generated assemblage data could reliably detect differences between study streams and seasons. IBI scores were significantly different between streams but not seasons. The findings of this study suggest that citizen data would likely detect a change in mean invertebrate density greater than 50% and would also be useful for monitoring changes in assemblage. The information presented here will help stream managers interpret and evaluate changes to the stream invertebrate community detected by citizen-based programs.