Internet ecology

Jarić, I., Correia, R.A., Brookl B.W., Buettel, J.C., Courchamp, F., Di Minin, E., Firth, J.A., Gaston, K.J., Jepson, P., Kalinkat, G., Ladle, R., Soriano-Redondo, A., Souza, A.T. & Roll, U. 2020. iEcology: Harnessing large online resources to generate ecological insights. Trends in Ecology and Evolution [online early].

Digital data are accumulating at unprecedented rates. These contain a lot of information about the natural world, some of which can be used to answer key ecological questions. Here, we introduce iEcology (i.e., internet ecology), an emerging research approach that uses diverse online data sources and methods to generate insights about species distribution over space and time, interactions and dynamics of organisms and their environment, and anthropogenic impacts. We review iEcology data sources and methods, and provide examples of potential research applications. We also outline approaches to reduce potential biases and improve reliability and applicability. As technologies and expertise improve, and costs diminish, iEcology will become an increasingly important means to gain novel insights into the natural world.