Utilization of photographs taken by citizens for estimating bumblebee distributions

Yukari Suzuki-Ohno, Jun Yokoyama, Tohru Nakashizuka, Masakado Kawata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Citizen science is a powerful tool for collecting large volumes of observational data on various species. These data are used to estimate distributions using environmental factors with Species Distribution Models (SDM). However, if citizens are inexperienced in recognizing organisms, they may report different species as the subject species. Here we show nation-wide bumblebee distributions using photographs taken by citizens in our project, and estimated distributions for six bumblebee species using land use, climate, and altitude data with SDM. We identified species from photographic images, and took their locations from GPS data of photographs or the text in e-mails. When we compared our data with conventional data for specimens in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), we found that the volume and the number of species were larger, and the bias of spatial range was lower, than those of GBIF. Our estimated distributions were more consistent with bumblebee distributions reported in previous studies than with those of GBIF. Our method was effective for collecting distribution data, and estimating distributions with SDM. The estimated SDM allows us to predict the previous and future species distributions, and to develop conservation policies taking account of future city planning and/or global climate changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11215
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1


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