Can we help wildlife adapt by crowdsourcing human responses to climate change?

Can data on how people respond to a warming world help us anticipate human impacts on wildlife?


Not long after Nikhil Advani joined WWF in 2013, he made an intriguing discovery. Advani, whose work focuses on climate change adaptation, was assessing the vulnerability of various species to the changing planet. “I quickly realized,” he says, “that for a lot of the species that WWF works on—like elephants, mountain gorillas, and snow leopards—the biggest climate-driven threats are likely to come from human communities affected by changes in weather and climate.”
His realization led to the launch of Climate Crowd, an online platform for crowdsourcing data about two key topics: learning how rural and indigenous communities around the world are responding to climate change, and how their responses are affecting biodiversity. (The latter topic, Advani says, is something we know very little about yet.) For example, if community members enter protected areas to collect water during droughts, how will that activity affect the flora and fauna?

Working with partners from a handful of other conservation groups, Advani designed a survey for participants to use when interviewing local community members. Participants transcribe the interviews, mark each topic discussed in a list of categories (such as drought or natural habitat encroachment), and upload the results to the online platform.

Partnerships with the Peace Corps and the School for Field Studies have already yielded more than 200 interviews from 10 countries. Now that the platform has officially launched, Advani expects that number will climb quickly, creating a wealth of new—and needed—climate impact data.

Explore the Climate Crowd.

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