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 "Role of Insects in Human Society".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2021) | Viewed by 22846

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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 1800 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 (16 papers)

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Article
CSI Pollen: Diversity of Honey Bee Collected Pollen Studied by Citizen Scientists
Insects 2021, 12(11), 987; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12110987 - 02 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1927
Abstract
A diverse supply of pollen is an important factor for honey bee health, but information about the pollen diversity available to colonies at the landscape scale is largely missing. In this COLOSS study, beekeeper citizen scientists sampled and analyzed the diversity of pollen [...] Read more.
A diverse supply of pollen is an important factor for honey bee health, but information about the pollen diversity available to colonies at the landscape scale is largely missing. In this COLOSS study, beekeeper citizen scientists sampled and analyzed the diversity of pollen collected by honey bee colonies. As a simple measure of diversity, beekeepers determined the number of colors found in pollen samples that were collected in a coordinated and standardized way. Altogether, 750 beekeepers from 28 different regions from 24 countries participated in the two-year study and collected and analyzed almost 18,000 pollen samples. Pollen samples contained approximately six different colors in total throughout the sampling period, of which four colors were abundant. We ran generalized linear mixed models to test for possible effects of diverse factors such as collection, i.e., whether a minimum amount of pollen was collected or not, and habitat type on the number of colors found in pollen samples. To identify habitat effects on pollen diversity, beekeepers’ descriptions of the surrounding landscape and CORINE land cover classes were investigated in two different models, which both showed that both the total number and the rare number of colors in pollen samples were positively affected by ‘urban’ habitats or ‘artificial surfaces’, respectively. This citizen science study underlines the importance of the habitat for pollen diversity for bees and suggests higher diversity in urban areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Article
Beewatching: A Project for Monitoring Bees through Photos
Insects 2021, 12(9), 841; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12090841 - 18 Sep 2021
Viewed by 867
Abstract
Bees play a key role in natural and agro-ecosystems and their diversity is worldwide threatened by anthropogenic causes. Despite this, there is little awareness of the existence of the numerous species of wild bees, and the common name “bee” is very often exclusively [...] Read more.
Bees play a key role in natural and agro-ecosystems and their diversity is worldwide threatened by anthropogenic causes. Despite this, there is little awareness of the existence of the numerous species of wild bees, and the common name “bee” is very often exclusively associated with Apis mellifera. Our aim was to create a citizen science project in Italy with the following objectives: (a) raising awareness of the importance and diversity of bees, (b) obtaining data on the biology, ecology and distribution of Italian species, and (c) launching the monitoring of alien bees. The first step of the project was to create a website platform with a section containing informative datasheets of the wild bee families and of the most common bee genera present in Italy, a form to send reports of observed bees and an interactive map with all citizen’s reports. During the 2 years of the project 1086 reports were sent by 269 users, with 38 Apoidea genera reported on 190 plant genera; furthermore, 22 reports regarding the alien species Megachile sculpturalis arrived. The majority of bees (34 genera) were observed on spontaneous plants, including 115 genera native to Italy. Considering the increasing number of reports and data obtained in these first two years of the project, our objectives seem to be achieved. Future steps will be to outline the profile of beewatchers, to plan activities in a more targeted way, and also to start some sub-projects for conservation purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Article
The European Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) Monitoring Network: International Citizen Science Cooperation Reveals Regional Differences in Phenology and Temperature Response
Insects 2021, 12(9), 813; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12090813 - 10 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1542
Abstract
To address the decline in biodiversity, international cooperation in monitoring of threatened species is needed. Citizen science can play a crucial role in achieving this challenging goal, but most citizen science projects have been established at national or regional scales. Here we report [...] Read more.
To address the decline in biodiversity, international cooperation in monitoring of threatened species is needed. Citizen science can play a crucial role in achieving this challenging goal, but most citizen science projects have been established at national or regional scales. Here we report on the establishment and initial findings of the European Stag Beetle Monitoring Network (ESBMN), an international network of stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) monitoring schemes using the same protocol. The network, started in 2016, currently includes 14 countries (see results) but with a strong variation in output regarding the number of transects (148 successful transects in total) and transect walks (1735). We found differences across European regions in the number of stag beetles recorded, related to phenology and temperature, but not for time of transect start. Furthermore, the initial experiences of the ESBMN regarding international cooperation, citizen science approach, and drop-out of volunteers is discussed. An international standardised protocol that allows some local variation is essential for international collaboration and data management, and analysis is best performed at the international level, whereas recruiting, training, and maintaining volunteers is best organised locally. In conclusion, we appeal for more joint international citizen science-based monitoring initiatives assisting international red-listing and conservation actions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Article
Fascination and Joy: Emotions Predict Urban Gardeners’ Pro-Pollinator Behaviour
Insects 2021, 12(9), 785; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12090785 - 02 Sep 2021
Viewed by 990
Abstract
The conservation of pollinators requires social understanding to catalyse restoration action. Citizen science (CS) is discussed as a way to promote interest and action for pollinating insects. Yet, the drivers behind pro-pollinator behaviour are largely unclear, especially in urban areas. To better understand [...] Read more.
The conservation of pollinators requires social understanding to catalyse restoration action. Citizen science (CS) is discussed as a way to promote interest and action for pollinating insects. Yet, the drivers behind pro-pollinator behaviour are largely unclear, especially in urban areas. To better understand public engagement in pollinator conservation, we studied urban community gardeners’ identity, nature-relatedness, emotions, and attitudes toward pollinators and their intentions to get involved in pro-pollinator behaviour in their gardening practice. We surveyed community gardeners in Berlin and Munich, Germany, some of which were participating in a citizen science project. In this scientific study, we created four different sets of generalized linear models to analyse how the gardeners’ pro-pollinator behaviour intentions and behaviour were explained by socio-psychological factors. The responses of 111 gardeners revealed that gardeners that were fascinated by pollinators, held positive attitudes and felt joy about seeing pollinators reported intentions to protect or support pollinators, suggesting that fascination and joy can be harnessed for research and conservation on pollinators. Similarly, joy about seeing pollinators predicted participation in the CS project. We believe that CS may represent a pathway through which urban residents may become key actors in conservation projects within their nearby greenspaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Article
Data Reliability in a Citizen Science Protocol for Monitoring Stingless Bees Flight Activity
Insects 2021, 12(9), 766; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12090766 - 27 Aug 2021
Viewed by 751
Abstract
Although the quality of citizen science (CS) data is often a concern, evidence for high-quality CS data increases in the scientific literature. This study aimed to assess the data reliability of a structured CS protocol for monitoring stingless bees’ flight activity. We tested [...] Read more.
Although the quality of citizen science (CS) data is often a concern, evidence for high-quality CS data increases in the scientific literature. This study aimed to assess the data reliability of a structured CS protocol for monitoring stingless bees’ flight activity. We tested (1) data accuracy for replication among volunteers and for expert validation and (2) precision, comparing dispersion between citizen scientists and expert data. Two distinct activity dimensions were considered: (a) perception of flight activity and (b) flight activity counts (entrances, exits, and pollen load). No significant differences were found among groups regarding entrances and exits. However, replicator citizen scientists presented a higher chance of perceiving pollen than original data collectors and experts, likely a false positive. For those videos in which there was an agreement about pollen presence, the effective pollen counts were similar (with higher dispersion for citizen scientists), indicating the reliability of CS-collected data. The quality of the videos, a potential source of variance, did not influence the results. Increasing practical training could be an alternative to improve pollen data quality. Our study shows that CS provides reliable data for monitoring bee activity and highlights the relevance of a multi-dimensional approach for assessing CS data quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Article
Abundant Citizen Science Data Reveal That the Peacock Butterfly Aglais io Recently Became Bivoltine in Belgium
Insects 2021, 12(8), 683; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080683 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 798
Abstract
The peacock butterfly is abundant and widespread in Europe. It is generally believed to be univoltine (one generation per year): adults born in summer overwinter and reappear again in spring to reproduce. However, recent flight patterns in western Europe mostly show three peaks [...] Read more.
The peacock butterfly is abundant and widespread in Europe. It is generally believed to be univoltine (one generation per year): adults born in summer overwinter and reappear again in spring to reproduce. However, recent flight patterns in western Europe mostly show three peaks during the year: a first one in spring (overwintering butterflies), a second one in early summer (offspring of the spring generation), and a third one in autumn. It was thus far unclear whether this autumn flight peak was a second new generation or consisted of butterflies flying again in autumn after a summer rest (aestivation). The life cycle of one of Europe’s most common butterflies is therefore still surprisingly inadequately understood. We used hundreds of thousands of observations and thousands of pictures submitted by naturalists from the public to the online portal observation.orgin Belgium and analyzed relations between flight patterns, condition (wear), reproductive cycles, peak abundances, and phenology to clarify the current life history. We demonstrate that peacocks have shifted towards two new generations per year in recent decades. Mass citizen science data in online portals has become increasingly important in tracking the response of biodiversity to rapid environmental changes such as climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Article
Using Citizen Science to Scout Honey Bee Colonies That Naturally Survive Varroa destructor Infestations
Insects 2021, 12(6), 536; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060536 - 09 Jun 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1700
Abstract
Citizen Science contributes significantly to the conservation of biodiversity, but its application to honey bee research has remained minimal. Even though certain European honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations are known to naturally survive Varroa destructor infestations, it is unclear how [...] Read more.
Citizen Science contributes significantly to the conservation of biodiversity, but its application to honey bee research has remained minimal. Even though certain European honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations are known to naturally survive Varroa destructor infestations, it is unclear how widespread or common such populations are. Such colonies are highly valuable for investigating the mechanisms enabling colony survival, as well as for tracking the conservation status of free-living honey bees. Here, we use targeted Citizen Science to identify potentially new cases of managed or free-living A. mellifera populations that survive V. destructor without mite control strategies. In 2018, a survey containing 20 questions was developed, translated into 13 languages, and promoted at beekeeping conferences and online. After three years, 305 reports were collected from 28 countries: 241 from managed colonies and 64 from free-living colonies. The collected data suggest that there could be twice as many naturally surviving colonies worldwide than are currently known. Further, online and personal promotion seem to be key for successful recruitment of participants. Although the survivor status of these colonies still needs to be confirmed, the volume of reports and responses already illustrate how effectively Citizen Science can contribute to bee research by massively increasing generated data, broadening opportunities for comparative research, and fostering collaboration between scientists, beekeepers, and citizens. The success of this survey spurred the development of a more advanced Citizen Science platform, Honey Bee Watch, that will enable a more accurate reporting, confirmation, and monitoring of surviving colonies, and strengthen the ties between science, stakeholders, and citizens to foster the protection of both free-living and managed honey bees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Article
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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 977
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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Article
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
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1689
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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Article
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
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1584
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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Article
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 886
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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Article
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
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1229
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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Article
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
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 881
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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Article
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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2867
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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Project Report
Towards Insect-Friendly Road Lighting—A Transdisciplinary Multi-Stakeholder Approach Involving Citizen Scientists
Insects 2021, 12(12), 1117; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12121117 - 14 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1424
Abstract
(1) The project “Tatort Streetlight” implements an insect-friendly road light design in a four year before–after, control–impact (BACI) approach involving citizen scientists. It will broaden the stakeholder interests from solely anthropogenic perspectives to include the welfare of insects and ecosystems. Motivated by the [...] Read more.
(1) The project “Tatort Streetlight” implements an insect-friendly road light design in a four year before–after, control–impact (BACI) approach involving citizen scientists. It will broaden the stakeholder interests from solely anthropogenic perspectives to include the welfare of insects and ecosystems. Motivated by the detrimental impacts of road lighting systems on insects, the project aims to find solutions to reduce the insect attraction and habitat fragmentation resulting from roadway illumination. (2) The citizen science approach invites stakeholders to take part and join forces for the development of a sustainable and environmentally friendly road lighting solution. Here, we describe the project strategy, stakeholder participation and motivation, and how the effects of the alternative road luminaire and lighting design can be evaluated. (3) The study compares the changes in (a) insect behavior, (b) night sky brightness, and (c) stakeholder participation and awareness. For this purpose, different experimental areas and stakeholders in four communities in Germany are identified. (4) The project transfers knowledge of adverse effects of improperly managed road illumination and interacts with various stakeholders to develop a new road lighting system that will consider the well-being of street users, local residents, and insects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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Protocol
Honeybee Cognition as a Tool for Scientific Engagement
Insects 2021, 12(9), 842; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12090842 - 18 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 728
Abstract
Apis mellifera (honeybees) are a well-established model for the study of learning and cognition. A robust conditioning protocol, the olfactory conditioning of the proboscis extension response (PER), provides a powerful but straightforward method to examine the impact of varying stimuli on learning performance. [...] Read more.
Apis mellifera (honeybees) are a well-established model for the study of learning and cognition. A robust conditioning protocol, the olfactory conditioning of the proboscis extension response (PER), provides a powerful but straightforward method to examine the impact of varying stimuli on learning performance. Herein, we provide a protocol that leverages PER for classroom-based community or student engagement. Specifically, we detail how a class of high school students, as part of the Ryukyu Girls Outreach Program, examined the effects of caffeine and dopamine on learning performance in honeybees. Using a modified version of the PER conditioning protocol, they demonstrated that caffeine, but not dopamine, significantly reduced the number of trials required for a successful conditioning response. In addition to providing an engaging and educational scientific activity, it could be employed, with careful oversight, to garner considerable reliable data examining the effects of varying stimuli on honeybee learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Citizen Science Approach for Expanding the Research on Insects)
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