Overcoming biodiversity blindness: Secondary data in primary citizen science observations

Nadja Pernat, Susan Canavan, Marina Golivets, Jasmijn Hillaert, Yuval Itescu, Ivan Jarić, Hjalte M.R. Mann, Pavel Pipek, Cristina Preda, David M. Richardson, Heliana Teixeira, Ana Sofia Vaz, Quentin Groom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the face of the global biodiversity crisis, collecting comprehensive data and making the best use of existing data are becoming increasingly important to understand patterns and drivers of environmental and biological phenomena at different scales. Here we address the concept of secondary data, which refers to additional information unintentionally captured in species records, especially in multimedia-based citizen science reports. We argue that secondary data can provide a wealth of ecologically relevant information, the utilisation of which can enhance our understanding of traits and interactions among individual organisms, populations and biodiversity dynamics in general. We explore the possibilities offered by secondary data and describe their main types and sources. An overview of research in this field provides a synthesis of the results already achieved using secondary data and different approaches to information extraction. Finally, we discuss challenges to the widespread use of secondary data, such as biases, licensing issues, use of metadata and lack of awareness of this trove of data due to a missing common terminology, as well as possible solutions to overcome these barriers. Although the exploration and use of secondary data is only emerging, the many opportunities identified show how these data can enrich biodiversity research and monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12295
JournalEcological Solutions and Evidence
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Ecological Solutions and Evidence published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.


  • artificial intelligence
  • biodiversity
  • citizen science
  • community science
  • ecological interactions
  • invasion science
  • monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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