The Ontario Tree Atlas Project: Using participatory science to map the occurrence of over 100 tree species in Ontario, Canada

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Emma Davis, Sean Fox

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The Ontario Tree Atlas Project began in 1994 in an effort to document, for the first time, the distribution and abundance of the major tree species in Ontario, Canada. At the time of the projects’ inception and still today, the distribution and abundance of Ontario’s trees had never been comprehensively determined, and the species range maps used in books and guides remain largely generalized. Throughout the data collection phase of the project, from 1995 to 2006, over 1,300 volunteers contributed 63,000 observations of species abundance, generating valuable information for the conservation and management of Ontario’s trees. As we reach twenty-five years since the project began, the Tree Atlas data can now serve as a historical point-in-time estimate of species occurrence. Pre-dating the advent of popular online participatory science platforms such as iNaturalist and others, the observations offer a comparison for how species occurrences have been altered by three decades of environmental change. Data from the Tree Atlas was shared publicly for the first time in 2021 through the publication of the Ontario Tree Atlas and will ultimately be made available through an online interactive mapping platform.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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