Coastal ecosystems, encompassing land and marine environments and hosting substantial biodiversity, are among the most threatened worldwide. The European Habitats Directive prioritises coastal habitats and species, requiring legislative, direct protection, monitoring, and informational measures. Accurate habitat and species monitoring is crucial to conservation efforts, yet biodiversity research in complex, ever-changing environments like coastal areas is difficult. Citizen Science may bridge biodiversity assessment and eco-friendly monitoring by incorporating non-scientists into the data collection for scientists and stakeholders. A Citizen Science approach supported by a dedicated iNaturalist project (called Wild Coast CASCADE) was implemented to obtain a complete monitoring framework that includes observations of many taxa in terrestrial, aquatic, and transitional dynamic coastal environments in the Central Italian Adriatic coast. We explored data gathered focusing on the IUCN Red List species, the species and habitats of European conservation concern, and the non-native species. Between 2020 and 2023, we collected 3784 records covering 742 species, with 81% meeting the “research grade criteria”, and these were retained for subsequent research. Citizen Science volunteers have collected 291 georeferenced animal records from the global IUCN Red List, 51 plant species from 14 species that are indicators of the presence of habitats of European Conservation Concern, and 44 non-native plants and animals. Our results provide evidence that citizen research projects can effectively assist in monitoring coastal–marine habitats and species. They also underline the potential of Citizen Science for biodiversity conservation and emphasize the importance of public engagement in conservation efforts
Compagnone, Federica;Varricchione, Marco;Innangi, Michele
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