As a result, the number of people that actually have the opportunity to become citizen scientists is limited. The problem seems surmountable as more efficient programs linking scientists with science educators are being developed (Johnson and McPhearson, 2006). A second problem resides in the poor understanding of the impacts of citizen science programs to date (Brossard et al., 2005). Some of the few studies available show that, although participants improved their knowledge and familiarity with a particular scientific topic, they did not achieve a better understanding of the scientific process or change their attitudes toward science and environmental issues (Brossard et al., 2005).
However, there are now many examples of citizen science programs in the biodiversity area that seem to have beneficial outcomes. The Bioblitz biodiversity surveys (Roach, 2003) carried out in New York’s Central Park, Washington, DC, and many other sites yielded new scientific results that not only further enthused participants and galvanized their activities but also attracted media interest. It seems that programs in citizen science have much potential if they allow more people to participate, their impacts are more thoroughly analyzed, and participants are better familiarized with the environmental issues that relate to their contribution (Brossard et al., 2005).
A very large and diverse public demonstrates a connection with nature and a sense of concern about environmental problems (Biodiversity Project, 2002). However, these attitudes often are not accompanied by real understanding of biodiversity or a sense of how to take more effective measures in protecting and sustaining natural habitats and species. Moreover, the public places much greater priority on other problems, such as terrorism, health, and the economy, than on biodiversity loss. People also often do not recognize the implications of biodiversity loss in exacerbating many problems more familiar and more important to them. Nonetheless, the capacity of the public (and the media) to respond in a more massive and emphatic way to some environmental issues, such as global warming (Bowman, 2007), points the way for greater connections with the public on biodiversity issues. Given the recent transformation of public response, it is more important than ever to show that environmental degradation represents a multidimensional problem in which biodiversity loss and other factors, in addition to climate change, have serious impacts. We are thus still challenged with the goal defined for the biodiversity agenda nearly 20 years ago. We must provide the enhanced understanding of biodiversity and its degradation in a way that empowers people to make choices and take action based on sound science and