Mining social media for ecological monitoring

Can Twitter help us detect and manage ecosystem changes?

Given the current rate of global environmental change and the limitations in scope and resources of traditional ecological monitoring, it is imperative to explore all possible means to detect early warnings of negative shifts in ecosystems.

A broad range of domains now employs data mining of informal online information sources such as Twitter, Blogs or online news to provide early warnings or supplemental information for critical events. To assess the potential of this approach for ecological monitoring we use alien invasive species as an example, which are known indicators or drivers of ecosystem change and have been recognized as an important issue from an ecological, economic and security perspective.

During this brown bag seminar, centre guest researcher Stefan Daume introduced the field of social media mining, the Ecoveillance project and an early version of the software system developed for this purpose. He explained how data about invasive species is collected from Twitter, and provided an outlook on how an analysis of communication patterns, topic detection and analysis of virtual communities may contribute to early warnings for invasive species or support remedial action.

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