Conservation efforts on private lands are critical to supporting biodiversity; however, conservation research has been biased towards studying species on public lands more so than species on private lands. This bias can lead to unrepresentative sampling and flawed conclusions because public lands may not accurately reflect a species’s habitat. For example, in the contiguous United States approximately 65% of the land is privately owned and 90% of federally threatened and endangered species spend a portion of their annual life cycle on privately owned lands. Therefore, stakeholders who exclusively utilize public lands data may implement inadequate management strategies because they do not possess a comprehensive understanding of their target species. By participating in conservation-related programs private landowners may directly and indirectly contribute to species conservation. Conservation-related programs also give landowners the opportunity to interact with other landowners, scientists, and citizen scientists. These interactions may add value to the participant’s experience while in the program.
Virginia Working Landscapes engages private landowners and volunteer citizen scientists through biological surveys in order to study the relationship between land-management and native species biodiversity. The Virginia Tech Dept of Fish and Wildlife Conservation is teaming up with Virginia Working Landscapes to learn more about conservation science research participants in Virginia. Specifically, we will explore why landowners and citizen scientists get involved, their experiences as participants, and the impacts of their experiences. In 2020 and 2021 we will conduct interviews with participating landowners and surveys of citizen scientists. We look forward to sharing the results with the participants and the broader conservation science community.
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