Subject: Re: CBC Accuracy?? Date: Dec 6 21:03:35 1998 From: "Kelly Cassidy" - lostriver at seanet.com
Jerry Converse writes:
>. I am told that there was one year that >there were only 6 people to cover 177 square miles. That is 29.5 square >miles person. Last year there were 16, this year it appears there will >be 10. Last year there were 81 in the Seattle CBC that is 2.18 square >miles per person.
Data collection that relies on volunteers is always a delicate balance between the desired data quality and the limits to what you can ask a volunteer to do. Compounding the matter is the limited number of the most highly prized volunteers (those people who are both most knowledgable and most willing to be inconvenienced in the name of good data collection).
As Jerry noted, the variable number of observers per circle and per year in each circle makes it more difficult to get meaningful results. Another problem is that circles are nowhere close to being randomly distributed. There is a map of the Washington CBCs at the Seattle Audubon site (http://www.seattleaudubon.org/CBC) There are 16 circles (of the 43 at least partly in the state) crammed into the developed Puget Trough area between Bellingham and Olympia, and these circles tend to have the highest participation. Circles further away from population centers tend to have low participation, and one (the Quillayute circle) is cancelled this year because of lack of interest. Who wants to drive a gazillion miles to the rain forest at the peak of rainy season and spend a wet miserable day counting chickadees when you can drive a few blocks and pick up a latte every hour as you count crows in Seattle?
My first reaction to the CBC map was that every other Puget Trough circle should be eliminated. If they are having the effect of draining volunteers away from less convenient circles, that would improve the overall state CBC representation. Upon further consideration, however, I suspect that most former volunteers for the eliminated circles would merely move to a neighboring Puget Trough circle, thus gaining nothing and losing coverage.
I like Jerry's idea for a future web site where a coordinator could keep updated volunteer counts/circle posted so that people might be more encouraged to participate in less popular counts. Emphasizing, like Jerry, the VOLUNTEER aspect of choosing a circle and not pressuring anyone to do something they don't want to do.