Initiating & Managing Long-Term Data with Amateur Scientists
The value of long-term data (generally >10 years) in ecology is well known. Funding agencies clearly see the value in these data and have supported a limited number of projects to this end. However, individual researchers often see the challenges of long-term data collection as insurmountable. We propose that long-term data collection can be practical as part of any teaching or outreach program, and we provide guidance on how long-term projects can fit into a teaching and research schedule. While our primary audience is college faculty, our message is appropriate for anyone interested in establishing long-term studies. The benefits of adopting these kinds of projects include experience for students, encouraging public interest in science, increased publication potential for researchers, and increased large-scale data availability, leading to a better understanding of ecological phenomena.