MinkApp is an interdisciplinary research project aimed at understanding and influencing the behaviour of volunteers in nature conservation projects. Our case study is the world’s largest community-based invasive species management programme in terms of area covered (> 20.000 km2). This programme seeks to detect and subsequently remove American mink (Neovison vison). American mink is an invasive non-native species that negatively affects native prey populations of water vole, ground nesting birds and other riparian species through predation. More than four hundred volunteers across Scotland are central to the success of the programme through managing rafts and traps.
In close cooperation with our project partner, the Scottish Mink Initiative, we have embarked on a two-phase research project with a direct impact on nature conservation practices and governance. Phase 1 involves the development of a digital platform which enables volunteers to directly upload records of signs and sightings of mink to a central database. This platform helps to establish whether volunteer behaviour (record submission) is influenced by digital innovation. Phase 2 consists of the development and implementation of a feedback system (through Natural Language Generation) which is aimed at better understanding potential effects of immediate, database-driven feedback on volunteer motivation.