Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2021

Thesis Advisor(s)

Eric Schultz, Mark Urban

Honors Major

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Animals | Aquaculture and Fisheries | Education


Aging scales of economically important fish like the Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) is a critical task in the fisheries industry, which can benefit from the help that citizen science offers. In order for those benefits to take effect, common people should be comfortable and fairly knowledgeable about what is expected of them in the study. Then, results can be generated in a way that gives all types of citizens a good opportunity to participate and produces reliable data that can be used for scientific purposes. This experiment studied the effects of simple word instructions versus diagramed instructions on the ability of participants to successfully age Alewife scales. There were two hypotheses: that the participants that work with the detailed set of instructions will have better accuracy in determining the age of the fish, and the increasing familiarity of the participants will correlate with decreasing error. Participants were assigned the task of aging five unknown alewives using instruction sets to learn how to count the annuli on scales. The results supported the hypotheses and gave more insight into how citizen science can be used to both create and verify scientific procedures. It is a step forward to understanding how to convince participants to contribute data and how data can be generated to the benefit of the scientist and the participant.