Examining Visitor Collected Species Data from Denali National Park and Preserve

Heather Fischer, Elizabeth Wentz, Leah Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In citizen science programs, the concept of “participant” is often used as a catch-all without considering how different participants (e.g., young, old, wealthy, poor, differentlyabled, local inhabitants, and visitors) affect scientific outcomes of citizen science programs (e.g., the data collection, data analysis, publications, etc.). This research advances the understanding of tourist participants’ ability to produce data comparable to participants who live near the study area. To examine data collected by tourist participants, we performed a case study on wildlife observation data collected through the Map of Life-Denali program in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, USA. The species observation data collected by tourists and Alaska Residents were compared visually using heatmaps and statistically with the Ripley’s K function variation, the L function. Results from the analysis show that the tourist and resident data have similar point patterns for the three species we compared, Ursus arctos (Grizzly Bear), Rangifer tarandus (Caribou), and Alces alces (Moose). Our results indicate that tourists can be effective citizen science participants. And show the potential for leveraging this large pool of untapped participants in popular tourist destinations such as U.S. National Parks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbercstp.475
JournalCitizen Science: Theory and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • Volunteered geographic information
  • citizen science
  • data quality
  • national parks
  • tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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