Citizen Science

Citizen science is voluntary public participation and collaboration in scientific research with the aim to increase knowledge and foster community involvement in the scientific process. Amateur naturalists and community groups contribute valuable skills, knowledge, ideas and passion to scientific projects.

Citizen science complements TERN’s scientist-led ecosystem data collection in Australia, facilitating broad-scale spatial and temporal coverage, impossible to collect otherwise with TERN’s resources alone.  TERN supports carefully planned citizen science efforts that have the potential to generate significant amounts of high-quality data.

Wild Orchid Watch

Orchids are important as an indicator of ecosystem change. They form the largest family of flowering plants in the world and with 25,000 species, they make up 8% of flowering plants, covering a wide range of ecosystems and habitats.   They are dependent on highly specialised pollinators and are reliant on mycorrhizal fungi and with habitats under pressure or threatened throughout the world, there is concern about their conservation and persistence in the wild.

Wild Orchid Watch (WOW) is an exciting national citizen science project designed to collect, record and share scientific information about Australian native orchids. WOW is five things: an app; agreed methods; information resource; data collection; and data sharing.

WOW was created through a partnership between TERN’s Ecosystem Surveillance observatory platform; the University of Adelaide; and native orchid enthusiasts across Australia with grant funding from the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia Science Engagement Programme.

The WOW app was developed by TERN’s Ecosystem Surveillance observatory platform in collaboration with orchid enthusiasts.  The app has been designed for researchers and the public alike.

The app feeds orchid photos, data and habitat information to the highly successful online citizen science platform iNaturalist for community identification and interpretation.

You can install the WOW app on your mobile device simply by typing into your internet browser: and following the prompts.

Data collected via the WOW app are made publicly accessible for research, policy and planning purposes, and will ultimately help to resolve conservation and taxonomic questions about Australian orchids. This information will have far-reaching applications at a national level, well beyond the orchid family.