Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Chimpanzee identification and social Network construction through an online citizen science platform


McCarthy, Maureen S (2021), Chimpanzee identification and social Network construction through an online citizen science platform, Dryad, Dataset,


Citizen science has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years due to its potential to educate and engage the public while providing a means to address a myriad of scientific questions. However, the rise in popularity of citizen science has also been accompanied by concerns about the quality of data emerging from citizen science research projects. We assessed data quality in the online citizen scientist platform Chimp&See, which hosts camera trap videos of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and other species across Equatorial Africa. In particular, we compared detection and identification of individual chimpanzees by citizen scientists to that of experts with years of experience studying those chimpanzees. We found that citizen scientists typically detected the same number of individual chimpanzees as experts, but assigned far fewer identifications (IDs) to those individuals. Those IDs assigned, however, were nearly always in agreement with the IDs provided by experts. We applied the data sets of citizen scientists and experts by constructing social networks from each. We found that both social networks were relatively robust and shared a similar structure, as well as having positively correlated individual network positions. Our findings demonstrate that, although citizen scientists produced a smaller data set based on fewer confirmed IDs, the data strongly reflect expert classifications and can be used for meaningful assessments of group structure and dynamics. This approach expands opportunities for social research and conservation monitoring in great apes and many other individually identifiable species. 


We installed camera traps throughout the home range of a community of habituated western chimpanzees for a period of approximately nine months. The nearly 600 chimpanzee videos recorded during that period were viewed by two experts who studied those chimpanzees, and they noted the total number of individuals detected as well as assigning individual IDs. Chimpanzee videos from this dataset were also viewed and annotated by citizen scientists using the online citizen science platform Chimp&See. We compared the data produced by both groups. 

Usage notes

We used a set a 305 1-min videos for direct comparison of individual detection and identification between experts and citizen scientists. This dataset provides IDs and detection data for that comparison.