Special Issue "The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects"

A special issue of Insects (ISSN 2075-4450). This special issue belongs to the section "Insect and Human Societies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Cristina Castracani
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences & Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze, 11/a, 43124 Parma, Italy
Interests: animal behavior; social insects; ants; biodiversity; integrated pest management; citizen science
Dr. Alessandro Campanaro
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Centre for Plant Protection and Certification, Italy
Interests: forest ecosystem; citizen science; long term ecosystem research; conservation of Natura 2000 sites; monitoring of endangered species; saproxylic community

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Citizen science is the active engagement of citizens in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data for scientific purposes. It has a multisectoral nature: while it can increase scientific knowledge, citizen science plays a role at a social, educational, and political level, contributing to raising public awareness and leading to the adoption of more sustainable behaviors.

In the field of insect biology, this methodological approach can provide promising results in many areas, for example, the conservation and monitoring of species, biodiversity assessments, physiology, ecology, behavior, pest management, parasitology, sustainable development.

The aim of this Special Issue is to collect recent contributions of citizen science research applied to insects and other arthropods, including:

  • Research papers based on biological data and/or analyses of the human dimension;
  • Review papers;
  • Methodological studies (new tools developed, apps, and services);
  • Good practices, guidelines, and/or lessons learned from citizen science projects or initiatives.

We invite you to join this Special Issue, which is the first attempt to gather and share citizen science studies based on insects and other arthropods.

Dr. Cristina Castracani
Dr. Alessandro Campanaro
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Insects is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • citizen science
  • conservation
  • monitoring
  • physiology
  • ecology
  • behavior
  • pest
  • parasitology
  • sustainable development
  • human dimension

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Buzzing Homes: Using Citizen Science Data to Explore the Effects of Urbanization on Indoor Mosquito Communities
Insects 2021, 12(5), 374; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050374 - 21 Apr 2021
Viewed by 337
Abstract
Urbanization has been associated with a loss of overall biodiversity and a simultaneous increase in the abundance of a few species that thrive in urban habitats, such as highly adaptable mosquito vectors. To better understand how mosquito communities differ between levels of urbanization, [...] Read more.
Urbanization has been associated with a loss of overall biodiversity and a simultaneous increase in the abundance of a few species that thrive in urban habitats, such as highly adaptable mosquito vectors. To better understand how mosquito communities differ between levels of urbanization, we analyzed mosquito samples from inside private homes submitted to the citizen science project ‘Mückenatlas’. Applying two urbanization indicators based on soil sealing and human population density, we compared species composition and diversity at, and preferences towards, different urbanization levels. Species composition between groups of lowest and highest levels of urbanization differed significantly, which was presumably caused by reduced species richness and the dominance of synanthropic mosquito species in urban areas. The genus Anopheles was frequently submitted from areas with a low degree of urbanization, Aedes with a moderate degree, and Culex and Culiseta with a high degree of urbanization. Making use of citizen science data, this first study of indoor mosquito diversity in Germany demonstrated a simplification of communities with increasing urbanization. The dominance of vector-competent species in urban areas poses a potential risk of epidemics of mosquito-borne diseases that can only be contained by a permanent monitoring of mosquitoes and by acquiring a deeper knowledge about how anthropogenic activities affect vector ecology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Open AccessArticle
From Phenology and Habitat Preferences to Climate Change: Importance of Citizen Science in Studying Insect Ecology in the Continental Scale with American Red Flat Bark Beetle, Cucujus clavipes, as a Model Species
Insects 2021, 12(4), 369; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040369 - 20 Apr 2021
Viewed by 748
Abstract
The American red flat bark beetle, Cucujus clavipes, is a wide distributed saproxylic species divided into two subspecies: ssp. clavipes restricted to eastern regions of North America and ssp. puniceus occurring only in western regions of this continent. Unique morphological features, including [...] Read more.
The American red flat bark beetle, Cucujus clavipes, is a wide distributed saproxylic species divided into two subspecies: ssp. clavipes restricted to eastern regions of North America and ssp. puniceus occurring only in western regions of this continent. Unique morphological features, including body shape and body coloration, make this species easy to recognize even for amateurs. Surprisingly, except some studies focused on physiological adaptations of the species, the ecology of C. clavipes was almost unstudied. Based on over 500 records collected by citizen scientists and deposited in the iNaturalist data base, we studied phenological activity of adult beetles, habitat preferences and impact of future climate change for both subspecies separately. The results clearly show that spp. clavipes and ssp. puniceus can be characterized by differences in phenology and macrohabitat preferences, and their ranges do not overlap at any point. Spp. clavipes is found as more opportunistic taxon occurring in different forests as well as in urban and agricultural areas with tree vegetation always in elevations below 500 m, while elevational distribution of ssp. puniceus covers areas up to 2300 m, and the beetle was observed mainly in forested areas. Moreover, we expect that climate warming will have negative influence on both subspecies with the possible loss of proper niches at level even up to 47–70% of their actual ranges during next few decades. As the species is actually recognized as unthreatened and always co-occurs with many other species, we suggest, because of its expected future habitat loss, to pay more attention to conservationists for possible negative changes in saproxylic insects and/or forest fauna in North America. In addition, as our results clearly show that both subspecies of C. clavipes differ ecologically, which strongly supports earlier significant morphological and physiological differences noted between them, we suggest that their taxonomical status should be verified by molecular data, because very probably they represent separate species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Open AccessArticle
Volunteering in the Citizen Science Project “Insects of Saxony”—The Larger the Island of Knowledge, the Longer the Bank of Questions
Insects 2021, 12(3), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030262 - 20 Mar 2021
Viewed by 669
Abstract
In a cross-sectional survey study (N = 116), volunteers of the project Insects of Saxony were asked about their current and past volunteering activities, their motivations, their rating of organisational offers, their knowledge, their satisfaction with the project and their personal contribution, [...] Read more.
In a cross-sectional survey study (N = 116), volunteers of the project Insects of Saxony were asked about their current and past volunteering activities, their motivations, their rating of organisational offers, their knowledge, their satisfaction with the project and their personal contribution, and their intended future involvement. Participants in the study were mostly male, well-educated, over 50 years old, and had been volunteering in biodiversity projects for a long time. They were driven by both pro-social (altruistic) and self-serving (egoistic) motivations, but rated the pro-social functions as more important for their engagement. Communication and feedback were rated the most important organisational offers. Participants also reported a knowledge increase during project participation. While the volunteers were satisfied with the overall project, they were significantly less content with their own contribution. Results from the survey were followed up with a group discussion (N = 60). The anecdotes revealed the participants’ regret of not having more time for their hobby, and they emphasised the challenges that arise from the different scientific approaches of the various disciplines. Most participants indicated that they want to continue their volunteering. Implications for measuring motivations in citizen science projects and for volunteer management are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Open AccessArticle
Relative Contribution of Citizen Science, Museum Data and Publications in Delineating the Distribution of the Stag Beetle in Spain
Insects 2021, 12(3), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030202 - 27 Feb 2021
Viewed by 517
Abstract
Reliable distribution maps are in the basis of insect conservation, but detailed chorological information is lacking for many insects of conservation concern (the Wallacean shortfall). Museum collections, entomological publications and citizen science projects can contribute to solve this Wallacean shortfall. Their relative contribution [...] Read more.
Reliable distribution maps are in the basis of insect conservation, but detailed chorological information is lacking for many insects of conservation concern (the Wallacean shortfall). Museum collections, entomological publications and citizen science projects can contribute to solve this Wallacean shortfall. Their relative contribution to the knowledge on the distribution of threatened insects has been scarcely explored, but it is important given that each of these three sources of information has its own biases and costs. Here we explore the contribution of museum data, entomological publications and citizen science in delineating the distribution of the European stag beetle in Spain. Citizen science contributed the highest number of records and grid cells occupied, as well as the highest number of grid cells not contributed by any other information source (unique grid cells). Nevertheless, both museum data and publications contributed almost 25% of all unique grid cells. Furthermore, the relative contribution of each source of information differed in importance among Spanish provinces. Given the pros and cons of museum data, publications and citizen science, we advise their combined use in cases, such as the European stag beetle in Spain, in which a broad, heterogeneous, sparsely populated territory has to be prospected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Open AccessArticle
Public Engagement Provides First Insights on Po Plain Ant Communities and Reveals the Ubiquity of the Cryptic Species Tetramorium immigrans (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)
Insects 2020, 11(10), 678; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11100678 - 07 Oct 2020
Viewed by 743
Abstract
Ants are considered a useful model for biodiversity monitoring and several of their characteristics make them promising for citizen science (CS) projects. Involving a wide range of public figures into collecting valuable data on the effect of human impact on ant biodiversity, the [...] Read more.
Ants are considered a useful model for biodiversity monitoring and several of their characteristics make them promising for citizen science (CS) projects. Involving a wide range of public figures into collecting valuable data on the effect of human impact on ant biodiversity, the School of Ants (SoA) project represents one of the very few attempts to explore the potential of these insects in CS. Through the collaboration with the “BioBlitz Lombardia” project, we tested the SoA protocol on 12 Northern Italy parks, ranging from urban green to subalpine protected sites. As a result, we obtained some of the very first quantitative data characterizing the ants of this region, recording 30 species and highlighting some interesting ecological patterns. These data revealed the ubiquitous presence of the recently taxonomically defined cryptic species Tetramorium immigrans, which appears to be probably introduced in the region. We also discuss advantages and criticisms encountered applying the SoA protocol, originally intended for schools, to new categories of volunteers, from BioBlitz participants to park operators, suggesting best practices based on our experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Open AccessArticle
Scent of Jasmine Attracts Alien Invaders and Records on Citizen Science Platforms: Multiple Introductions of the Invasive Lacebug Corythauma ayyari (Drake, 1933) (Heteroptera: Tingidae) in Italy and the Mediterranean Basin
Insects 2020, 11(9), 620; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11090620 - 10 Sep 2020
Viewed by 565
Abstract
The jasmine lacebug Corythauma ayyari is a pest of cultivated and ornamental plants mainly associated to Jasminum spp. This invasive insect is native to Asia, and it has been recently introduced in several countries, mainly within the Mediterranean basin. Here, we updated the [...] Read more.
The jasmine lacebug Corythauma ayyari is a pest of cultivated and ornamental plants mainly associated to Jasminum spp. This invasive insect is native to Asia, and it has been recently introduced in several countries, mainly within the Mediterranean basin. Here, we updated the known distribution of this species, including five new Italian regions (Liguria, Tuscany, Latium, Apulia, and Calabria); Salamis Island in Greece, and the Occitanie region in France. Citizen-science data have significantly contributed to the knowledge on species distribution, and the online platform for sharing biodiversity information can represent an effective tool for the early detection. Molecular analyses revealed that the specimens collected in Peninsular Italy and Sicily belong to a unique clade, suggesting the possibility of a single introduction, whereas those from Menton (France) and Calabria (Southern Italy) are separated from the others and probably originate from separated introductions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Open AccessArticle
How Effective Are Citizen Scientists at Contributing to Government Tree Health Public Engagement and Surveillance Needs—An Analysis of the UK Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) Survey Model
Insects 2020, 11(9), 550; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11090550 - 19 Aug 2020
Viewed by 2264
Abstract
The incidence of tree disease has been increasing in the UK in recent years as a result of a range of alien tree pests and pathogens new to the country. In the early 2010s government staff resources to monitor, identify and eradicate these [...] Read more.
The incidence of tree disease has been increasing in the UK in recent years as a result of a range of alien tree pests and pathogens new to the country. In the early 2010s government staff resources to monitor, identify and eradicate these pathogens were limited, so we tested the efficacy of “citizen scientists” to support these needs. The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) is a successful citizen science programme launched in 2007, which at that time of launch involved over 650 thousand people in a range of environmental surveys. In 2012–2013, the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) and Forest Research staff worked with OPAL and its partners to launch a citizen science tree health survey in Great Britain and this was extended to cover Northern Ireland until it closed in 2019. Over 2800 surveys were completed including records on more than 4500 trees, the majority from urban areas. This paper discusses the results of the survey and their value for the assessment of tree health. It also considers the implications of engagement with the general public for the future of tree health surveillance. Recommendations are made for further development of the OPAL “model” and more generally for the role of citizen science in this important area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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