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6 August 2023 Online community photo-sharing in entomology: a large-scale review with suggestions on best practices
Michael J. Skvarla, J. Ray Fisher
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Over the past 2 decades, digital photography has grown increasingly accessible. This has ushered in a golden age of community science, where nonspecialists share natural history observations from across the globe via digital media. Importantly, these observations are accessible to researchers, who can readily share expertise directly with the community and connect observations and observers with research projects. This has fueled a rising number of publications combining specialist and nonspecialist observations, which occasionally make national and international headlines. Entomology has embraced this trend, but the scope and impact are not clear. A review of its effect on the field is therefore warranted. Herein, we review and analyze publications that incorporated information from photographs shared on photo-sharing websites. In total, 2,123 publications that incorporated information from 77 photo-sharing websites were examined. Seven websites accounted for 66% of the publication citations. 84.6% of publications focused on data from the Holarctic ecoregion (56.2% Palearctic and 28.4% Nearctic). Forty-six arthropod orders were represented, but the Big Five—Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Hemiptera, and Diptera—accounted for 75% of all publications. We divide the publications into 28 discovery and use categories, review how community photograph data has been used within each category, and provide examples of categories utilized in nonentomology natural history fields, which we hope will provide inspiration and spur future research. We also discuss benefits and considerations when using such data—including the accuracy of identifications, inherent biases, and digital data impermanence—and suggest best practices to follow.

Michael J. Skvarla and J. Ray Fisher "Online community photo-sharing in entomology: a large-scale review with suggestions on best practices," Annals of the Entomological Society of America 116(5), 276-304, (6 August 2023).
Received: 13 April 2023; Accepted: 19 July 2023; Published: 6 August 2023

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community science
digital photography
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