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Citizen Science GIS: Examining Mixed Method Research Frameworks and Spatial Storytelling in Monkey River Village, Toledo, Belize

Authors: Kayla McClendon*, Arizona State University, Dr. Hannah Torres, Old Dominion University , Jana Clevenger, Vassar College, Arianna Ortiz, University of Massachusetts Boston, Dr. Timothy Hawthorne , University of Central Florida
Topics: Applied Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Remote Sensing
Keywords: Belize, citizen science, community GIS, participatory GIS, spatial storytelling, UAV, remote sensing, mixed method research
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Engaging in citizen science for meaningful engagement with community members is both impactful and underutilized as a method in geographic research. Traditional geographic practices often exclude community members’ perceptions and opinions in assessing socio-environmental phenomenon. Mixed method research practices helps to demonstrate complex socio-environmental phenomena that function on multiple scales that are difficult to express with geographic information systems alone.
This case study is a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates in Monkey River Village, Belize.The results serve as an example of a citizen science mixed method framework which employs field interviews, citizen science, UAV remote sensing data collection, and spatial storytelling techniques to increase the applicability and relevancy of GIS in a resource-limited study site. Interviews provided important context to accompany remote sensing data, to better understand some of the driving forces of socio- environmental changes, such as erosion and changing river dynamics. This work facilitated collaborative relationships between local and scientific community members by integrating community voices and sense of place into the research process. Fostering community partnerships and publishing all data as open access promotes local stewardship of data, and increases the data catalog in data limited spaces. Maintaining these relationships increases the efficacy and education of shared knowledge for both the community of Monkey River and future scholars . Citizen science frameworks, like the one used in this research program, help bridge the gaps between science and society in order to increase community education, local knowledge representation, and dialogue to better understand socio-environmental phenomenon.

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