“Science Communication, Visual Rhetoric, and eBird: The Role of Participatory Science Communication in Fostering Empathy for Species.” Propen, Amy D. Chapter proposal accepted for the upcoming, contracted Routledge Handbook of Science Communication. Ed. Hanganu-Bresch, Cristina, Stefania Maci, Michael Zerbe, and Gabriel Cutrufello.

Public participation in scientific research projects, or “citizen science,” constitutes an important component of science communication practice. eBird, managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is “among the world’s largest biodiversity-related science projects, with more than 100 million bird sightings contributed each year” (‘About eBird’). Participants are typically birders who communicate scientific information by uploading their photos and other media to the eBird website, thereby adding to “a global database of bird populations” (National Audubon Society, 2019). Participatory projects like eBird have clear implications for science communication, as birders can play a role in shaping knowledge about bird species around the globe, especially through the use of visual information. This chapter considers how eBird, specifically its photographic content, not only constitutes an important mode of science communication, but in doing so, also helps foster empathy for vulnerable species (Gruen, 2015) and helps illustrate the geographical concept of “caring at a distance” (Silk, 1998). Finally, in demonstrating how eBird constitutes a productive mode of science communication, this chapter considers the broader implications of scientific communication and visual rhetoric for contributing to species and habitat conservation at a time when such efforts are more necessary than ever before.