Surveying the scope, success, and challenges of plant conservation community science

First emerging at the end of the 20th century, community science (a.k.a. citizen science), utilizing volunteers and volunteer-contributed data, has become a major component of biological conservation worldwide. We assessed community science projects that conduct rare plant monitoring to examine the value of community science in plant conservation. We identified projects through research and targeted outreach. Through digital surveys of project managers and volunteers, we collected qualitative and quantitative data addressing the efficacy of projects in regard to a number of predictor variables (e.g., staffing, funding, program size, data management, volunteer training, and demographics) and metrics of success (e.g., number of volunteers engaged, monitoring assignments, and publications). We reported the qualities of successful plant conservation community science projects to encourage the establishment of new projects, the improvement of existing ones, and the maximum application of volunteer-contributed rare plant monitoring datasets. Based on this study, we have established a community science rare plant monitoring network to facilitate sharing ideas, strategies, and tools for project success.