Posted: 28/07/2021

Training school - Habitat Suitability Models Using Citizen Science And Social Media Data On Invasive Alien Species 

The four-day training school “Habitat suitability models using citizen science and social media data on invasive alien species”, a joint initiative between the research centre CIBIO-InBIO (Porto, Portugal) and the Alien-CSI project, took place from the 6th to 9th of July. The training school, under the coordination of Joana Vicente, Ana Sofia Vaz (CIBIO-InBIO), Helen Roy and Quentin Groom (Alien-CSI) welcomed the participation of 20 dynamic and motivated trainees!

Several researchers joined the course to share their experience and to aid the trainees with the use of best-practice and state-of-the-art tools and approaches to explore the opportunities of citizen science data and ecological modelling for advancing scientific understanding of Alien Species dynamics and support decision-making. Our special thanks to João Honrado, Elizabete Marchante, Adrián Regos, João Gonçalves, Bernd Lenzner, Hanno Seebens, Lien Reyserhove, Elena Tricarico, Tim Adriaens, Tom August and Pieter Huybrechts for the interesting and nice lectures and hands-on sessions!

During the training school, the trainees had the chance to learn about the utility of ecological models to support invasive alien species research and management (by João Honrado) and the role of volunteer citizens and citizen science initiatives in the observation, monitoring and management of invasive species (by Helen Roy). They were also engaged in discussions about how to get citizens involved in the collection of data about invasive plants and how to best use such data in invasion research (by Elizabete Marchante). A particular emphasis was provided on the difficulties of engaging citizen scientists into spotting and reporting alien species in freshwater and marine systems, which are especially important for an early evaluation of the spread and distribution invasive aquatic species (by Elena Tricarico).

The course further addressed the opportunities in the use, collection and analysis of social media data, and on the best practices to make such data are meaningful for supporting monitoring of invasive alien species (by Ana Sofia Vaz). Novel artificial intelligence tools and models, such as computer vision and natural language processing, and the roads ahead of the application of the technological advances over social media data were also emphasized in the context of invasive science (by Tom August).

The participants also had the chance to explore two modelling frameworks that can assist in the prediction of invasive alien species’ occurrences and distribution from multiple data sources. The SESAM framework was explained and explored for the spatial modelling of ecological niches of multiple alien invader species (by Adrián Regos). A hands-on session and overview of the biomod2 package was also provided for the modelling of ecological niches of single alien invader species, and the potential conflicts for the conservation of native species, under environmental change scenarios (by Joana Vicente).

The course also discussed the multiple issues associated with the use of citizen science data in the context of invasion science and management. Among those issues, is the need for detecting and accounting for biases in large datasets namely, uneven spatial coverage, uneven recording intensity over time, uneven sampling effort per visit and uneven detectability across space and time (by Bernd Lenzner). Also, creating workflows to process, standardise and integrate citizen science data, namely through accessibility, communication and collaboration strategies, will ensure transparency and reproducibility, making scientific work and data useful for invasion science (Hanno Seebens). Similarly, developing a good workflow that copes with the FAIR principles is important to manage citizen science data sources in a more user-friendly to all (by Lien Reyserhove).

The course ended with an overview of the sharing of experiences from the Bioblitz working group of Alien-CSI and how to get the most of a short-term citizen science project for recording regional biodiversity and possibly invasive species (by Quentin Groom). For the last session of the course, the Alien-CSI Coding Club joined the training school, time during which the open-source tool OpenRefine was presented to help filtering, sorting and viewing citizen science data (by Pieter Huybrechts).

Posted: 28/01/2020

CA17122 - Increasing understanding of alien species through citizen science

Task: preparation of Id cards related to marine IAS for citizen scientists (CS)

Three target groups of CS were chosen- Fishers, Divers, and Naturalists (including the wider public such as bathers, tourists, shell collectors)

The task included

a) selection of the most invasive marine species likely to be encountered by citizen scientists;

b) collection of high-quality photos of all species in question;

c) search for the species’ common names in 6 different languages: Arabic, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French and English

d) search for the species’ common size;

e) layout design and illustration of the cards

The work was co-ordinated by Argyro Zenetos (Hellenic Centre for Marine Research-HCMR) in close collaboration with Bella Galil (Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Israel), Nir Stern (Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research) and Kostas Tsiamis (Joint Research Centre). Significant contribution was provided by Paraskevi K. Karachle (HCMR) Elena Tricarico (Università degli Studi di Firenze) and Alan Deidun (International Ocean Institute - Malta Centre). Cards were designed by Nicholas-Jason S. Xentidis and printed by Pavlos Pavlidis.


A total of 65 species are presented in the cards. They belong to: molluscs (10), fishes (23), crustaceans (11), jellyfishes (5), echinoderms (2), tunicates (2), bryozoans (1), and macrophytes (11).

File ID carts.docx

Find more information on:

PDF icon ID cards related to marine IAS for CS.pdf


Posted: 28/01/2020


Let's do some mini POMS-KÝ together.

If you love nature and science, then let's do some citizen science together.
You just need 10 minutes, a quadrat, a target flower and your good mood.

Yesterday our young volunteers tried and the become very excited.
If you want to try it, find us on:




Posted: 11/06/2019

Flower Insect Counts on a hot and sunny day - 3A Environmental/Biodiversity Group

By Mrs Sue Tsirikos

Head of the 3A Environmental/Biodiversity Group

The 3A Environmental/Biodiversity Group invited Dr Kelly Martinou for a meeting at the Akrotiri Environmental Centre on 29th May 2019. Kelly is the Head Entomologist at the Joint Services Health Unit (JSHU), British Forces Cyprus based in Akrotiri who specializes in “alien” invasive species and mosquitoes in particular, and the Alien CSI communication manager.

Kelly was joined by Miss Ioanna Angelidou a post-graduate student at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens University who is currently undertaking her MSc thesis in Akrotiri at JSHU. Ioanna's master is looking at insect biodiversity in native and non-native habitats surrounding the Akrotiri wetland. Furthermore Ioanna is very involved with the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme of Kypros (PoMS-Ký) which is a programme designed for citizen scientists and focuses on the collection of data on pollinators and other beneficial insects and their interactions with native and non-native plants.

Eighteen members of 3A Environmental/Biodiversity Group joined Ioanna in the gardens of the Centre to help with her project, all did flower insect counts, by chose a plant and spent 10 minutes recording every insect they found on that particular plant. 

All the results were collected by Ioanna for her records.  If you want to take part in this project please visit the following website which will give you details of how you can




Posted: 15/04/2019

Citizen Science and Biodiversity: Thoughts From a Meeting With the European Citizen Science Association

Posted: 22/02/2019

Sharing ideas to increase collection and sharing of invasive species data

It would be nice to have easy access to data on invasive species to protect vulnerable habitats, prevent their spread and inform policy. In a perfect world we could have clean, unbiased datasets that have been collected using globally agreed standards and by completely unbiased observers. Yet, as everyone knows, this will never be the cases with wildlife observations. So we need to make do with the resources we have and try to extract as much meaning from the data we have.

This latest Alien-CSI meeting examined the challenges of promoting and using data collected by volunteer observers, but also celebrated the amazing work they do for conservation and invasive species monitoring. Narrow focus projects on ladybirds and stag-beetles were mentioned, in addition to broader projects, such as LIFE-ARTEMIS.

During the workshop we were specifically looking at barriers to the flow of data from volunteers and at ways to communicate the issues of invasive species through data visualization. Also, we discussed ways to encourage more data collection and how these data can be shared more quickly.

Biases in the data are a well known problem. These biases are many, including bias toward particular areas, habitats, times of day and types of organism. Participants were so familiar with these biases that we considered ways that we could embrace our biases, by designing surveys on charismatic organisms that live in habitats that people like to visit.

There is much still to be done in these working group, however a number of themes have already emerged to be worked on in future meetings and short-term scientific missions. It is a pleasure to be working with this group of engaged researchers from all of Europe and I look forward to our next meeting.

We are very grateful to our host in Zargreb, Sven Jelaska whose seamless organization made it easy to concentrate on the work of the project.





Posted: 17/01/2019

We are announcing, Green Pioneers, a project funded by the Flemish Government. This is a citizen science project on invasive plant species in Flanders (Belgium). 

It is a two year project with three main goals:

  1. Create awareness on invasive species, how can invasions be avoided and how can the negative impacts be diminished?
  2. Improve communication between citizens and scientists on biodiversity and invasive plants.
  3. Augment the quality and quantity of data on invasive species in Flanders.


We will focus on three different groups: 

  • Young Pioneers: High school students, by developing tools for STEM education. 
  • Online Pioneers: Online volunteers who help us with the transcription of label information of herbarium specimens on 
  • Visiteers: Working age people who voluntary help us for one day in the collection, part fun, part science, part communication on invasive species.


We hope that the project can work with Alien-CSI to spread our message further and help other counties communicate on invasive alien species.