Special Issue "Citizen Science Approaches to Vector Surveillance"

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 March 2022) | Viewed by 10944

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Benjamin Cull
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA
Interests: tick; vector-borne disease; vector surveillance; vector ecology; tick-borne disease; mosquito
Dr. Emma L. Gillingham
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Climate Change and Health Group, Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Public Health England, Chilton OX11 0RQ, UK
Interests: vectors (e.g. ticks and mosquitoes) and the impact they have on public health

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Arthropod vector surveillance is vital to understanding the distribution, seasonal activity, and host preferences of vectors of medical and veterinary concern and informs strategies aiming to prevent pathogen transmission, such as vector control and public health messaging. Citizen science has become recognized as a resource-efficient method to both raise public awareness and gather large datasets covering wide geographical areas and is increasingly utilized by researchers for multiple applications, including surveillance for arthropod vectors.

This Special Issue aims to highlight the application of citizen science approaches to vector surveillance, including the use of targeted citizen science projects, smartphone apps, social media, online databases, and other passive surveillance methods for the collection of vector data. Research showcasing the integration of citizen science into existing surveillance programs, or comparison of passive and active surveillance data, is also very welcome.

Dr. Benjamin Cull
Dr. Emma L. Gillingham
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

  • vector surveillance
  • citizen science

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Integrating Global Citizen Science Platforms to Enable Next-Generation Surveillance of Invasive and Vector Mosquitoes
Insects 2022, 13(8), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13080675 - 27 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2461
Abstract
Mosquito-borne diseases continue to ravage humankind with >700 million infections and nearly one million deaths every year. Yet only a small percentage of the >3500 mosquito species transmit diseases, necessitating both extensive surveillance and precise identification. Unfortunately, such efforts are costly, time-consuming, and [...] Read more.
Mosquito-borne diseases continue to ravage humankind with >700 million infections and nearly one million deaths every year. Yet only a small percentage of the >3500 mosquito species transmit diseases, necessitating both extensive surveillance and precise identification. Unfortunately, such efforts are costly, time-consuming, and require entomological expertise. As envisioned by the Global Mosquito Alert Consortium, citizen science can provide a scalable solution. However, disparate data standards across existing platforms have thus far precluded truly global integration. Here, utilizing Open Geospatial Consortium standards, we harmonized four data streams from three established mobile apps—Mosquito Alert, iNaturalist, and GLOBE Observer’s Mosquito Habitat Mapper and Land Cover—to facilitate interoperability and utility for researchers, mosquito control personnel, and policymakers. We also launched coordinated media campaigns that generated unprecedented numbers and types of observations, including successfully capturing the first images of targeted invasive and vector species. Additionally, we leveraged pooled image data to develop a toolset of artificial intelligence algorithms for future deployment in taxonomic and anatomical identification. Ultimately, by harnessing the combined powers of citizen science and artificial intelligence, we establish a next-generation surveillance framework to serve as a united front to combat the ongoing threat of mosquito-borne diseases worldwide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Citizen Science Approaches to Vector Surveillance)
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Article
Building International Capacity for Citizen Scientist Engagement in Mosquito Surveillance and Mitigation: The GLOBE Program’s GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper
Insects 2022, 13(7), 624; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13070624 - 13 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 962
Abstract
The GLOBE Program’s GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper is a no-cost citizen scientist data collection tool compatible with Android and iOS devices. Available in 14 languages and 126 countries, it supports mosquito vector surveillance, mitigation, and education by interested individuals and as part [...] Read more.
The GLOBE Program’s GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper is a no-cost citizen scientist data collection tool compatible with Android and iOS devices. Available in 14 languages and 126 countries, it supports mosquito vector surveillance, mitigation, and education by interested individuals and as part of participatory community surveillance programs. For low-resource communities where mosquito control services are inadequate, the Mosquito Habitat Mapper supports local health action, empowerment, and environmental justice. The tangible benefits to human health supported by the Mosquito Habitat Mapper have encouraged its wide adoption, with more than 32,000 observations submitted from 84 countries. The Mosquito Habitat Mapper surveillance and data collection tool is complemented by an open database, a map visualization interface, data processing and analysis tools, and a supporting education and outreach campaign. The mobile app tool and associated research and education assets can be rapidly deployed in the event of a pandemic or local disease outbreak, contributing to global readiness and resilience in the face of mosquito-borne disease. Here, we describe the app, the Mosquito Habitat Mapper information system, examples of Mosquito Habitat Mapper deployment in scientific research, and the outreach campaign that supports volunteer training and STEM education of students worldwide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Citizen Science Approaches to Vector Surveillance)
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Article
Monitoring Trends in Distribution and Seasonality of Medically Important Ticks in North America Using Online Crowdsourced Records from iNaturalist
Insects 2022, 13(5), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13050404 - 22 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 697
Abstract
Recent increases in the incidence and geographic range of tick-borne diseases in North America are linked to the range expansion of medically important tick species, including Ixodes scapularis, Amblyomma americanum, and Amblyomma maculatum. Passive tick surveillance programs have been highly successful [...] Read more.
Recent increases in the incidence and geographic range of tick-borne diseases in North America are linked to the range expansion of medically important tick species, including Ixodes scapularis, Amblyomma americanum, and Amblyomma maculatum. Passive tick surveillance programs have been highly successful in collecting information on tick distribution, seasonality, host-biting activity, and pathogen infection prevalence. These have demonstrated the power of citizen or community science participation to collect country-wide, epidemiologically relevant data in a resource-efficient manner. This study examined tick observations from the online image-based biological recording platform iNaturalist to evaluate its use as an effective tool for monitoring the distributions of A. americanum, A. maculatum, I. scapularis, and Dermacentor in the United States and Canada. The distribution and seasonality of iNaturalist tick observations were found to accurately represent those of the studied species. County-level iNaturalist tick occurrence data showed good agreement with other data sources in documented areas of I. scapularis and A. americanum establishment, and highlighted numerous previously unreported counties with iNaturalist observations of these species. This study supports the use of iNaturalist data as a highly cost-effective passive tick surveillance method that can complement existing surveillance strategies to update tick distributions and identify new areas of tick establishment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Citizen Science Approaches to Vector Surveillance)
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Article
Improving Widescale Monitoring of Ectoparasite Presence in Northern Canadian Wildlife with the Aid of Citizen Science
Insects 2022, 13(4), 380; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13040380 - 12 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 824
Abstract
Sampling hides from harvested animals is commonly used for passive monitoring of ectoparasites on wildlife hosts, but often relies heavily on community engagement to obtain spatially and temporally consistent samples. Surveillance of winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) on moose (Alces alces [...] Read more.
Sampling hides from harvested animals is commonly used for passive monitoring of ectoparasites on wildlife hosts, but often relies heavily on community engagement to obtain spatially and temporally consistent samples. Surveillance of winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) on moose (Alces alces) and caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) hosts in Yukon, Canada, has relied in part on voluntary submission of hides by hunters since 2011, but few samples were submitted. To enhance sampling efforts on underrepresented moose and caribou hosts, we implemented a three-year citizen science program, the Yukon Winter Tick Monitoring Project (YWTMP), to better engage with hunters in hide sample collection. A combination of in-person and social media outreach, incentivized engagement, and standardized hide sampling kits increased voluntary submissions of moose and caribou hides almost 100-fold since surveillance began. Citizen science samples expanded the northernmost geographic extent of existing sampling efforts for moose by 480 km and for caribou by 650 km to reach 67.5° N latitude. Samples also resulted in new detections of winter ticks on moose hides that are spatially separate to those submitted for other cervids in Yukon. Findings from the YWTMP have provided an essential baseline to monitor future winter tick host–parasite dynamics in the region and highlighted priority areas for ongoing tick surveillance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Citizen Science Approaches to Vector Surveillance)
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Article
First Nationwide Monitoring Program for the Detection of Potentially Invasive Mosquito Species in Austria
Insects 2022, 13(3), 276; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13030276 - 10 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1104
Abstract
In Austria, only fragmented information on the occurrence of alien and potentially invasive mosquito species exists. The aim of this study is a nationwide overview on the situation of those mosquitoes in Austria. Using a nationwide uniform protocol for the first time, mosquito [...] Read more.
In Austria, only fragmented information on the occurrence of alien and potentially invasive mosquito species exists. The aim of this study is a nationwide overview on the situation of those mosquitoes in Austria. Using a nationwide uniform protocol for the first time, mosquito eggs were sampled with ovitraps at 45 locations in Austria at weekly intervals from May to October 2020. The sampled eggs were counted and the species were identified by genetic analysis. The Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus was found at two sites, once in Tyrol, where this species has been reported before, and for the first time in the province of Lower Austria, at a motorway rest stop. The Asian bush mosquito Aedes japonicus was widespread in Austria. It was found in all provinces and was the most abundant species in the ovitraps by far. Aedes japonicus was more abundant in the South than in the North and more eggs were found in habitats with artificial surfaces than in (semi-) natural areas. Further, the number of Ae. japonicus eggs increased with higher ambient temperature and decreased with higher wind speed. The results of this study will contribute to a better estimation of the risk of mosquito-borne disease in Austria and will be a useful baseline for a future documentation of changes in the distribution of those species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Citizen Science Approaches to Vector Surveillance)
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Article
Monitoring Temporal Trends in Internet Searches for “Ticks” across Europe by Google Trends: Tick–Human Interaction or General Interest?
Insects 2022, 13(2), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13020176 - 08 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1037
Abstract
Monitoring vector–human interaction is pivotal for assessing potential transmission rates of vector borne diseases and their associated public health impact. People often seek information following an insect bite in order to identify hematophagous arthropods, which in recent years often is done using Internet [...] Read more.
Monitoring vector–human interaction is pivotal for assessing potential transmission rates of vector borne diseases and their associated public health impact. People often seek information following an insect bite in order to identify hematophagous arthropods, which in recent years often is done using Internet resources. Through this activity, a record of net searches is generated, which include information that reflect local human–arthropod interaction, e.g., for the common tick (Ixodes ricinus) in European countries. Such records could in principle provide low cost real-time monitoring data, if indeed Internet search activities adequately reflect tick–human interaction. We here explore Google Trends records for within-year and between-year trends, for four different Danish search terms for “tick(s)”. We further assess the relationship between monthly search-frequencies and local weather conditions (temperatures and precipitation from 2007 to 2016) in nine European countries. Our findings point to significant limitations in the records due to changes in search-term preferences over the given years. However, the seasonal dynamics are comparable among search-terms. Moreover, the seasonal pattern in search terms vary across Europe in tune with changes in temperature and precipitation. We conclude that, the within-year variation for given search-terms provide credible information, which systematically vary with local weather patterns. We are not convinced that these records merely reflect general interest. It will, however, require a more in-depth analysis by researchers that have specific insight into local language practices to fully assess the strength and weaknesses of this approach Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Citizen Science Approaches to Vector Surveillance)
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Article
Development of a Community-Driven Mosquito Surveillance Program for Vectors of La Crosse Virus to Educate, Inform, and Empower a Community
Insects 2022, 13(2), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13020164 - 03 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1037
Abstract
The fields of entomology, geospatial science, and science communication are understaffed in many areas, resulting in poor community awareness and heightened risks of vector-borne diseases. This is especially true in East Tennessee, where La Crosse encephalitis (LACE) causes pediatric illness each year. In [...] Read more.
The fields of entomology, geospatial science, and science communication are understaffed in many areas, resulting in poor community awareness and heightened risks of vector-borne diseases. This is especially true in East Tennessee, where La Crosse encephalitis (LACE) causes pediatric illness each year. In response to these problems, we created a community engagement program that includes a yearlong academy for secondary STEM educators in the 6–12 grade classroom. The objectives of this program were to support inquiry-driven classroom learning to foster student interest in STEM fields, produce community-driven mosquito surveillance, and enhance community awareness of LACE. We trained educators in medical entomology, geospatial science, and science communication, and they incorporated those skills into lesson plans for a mosquito oviposition experiment that tested hypotheses developed in the classroom. Here, we share results from the first two years of the MEGA:BITESS academy, tailored for our community by having students ask questions directly related to Aedes mosquito oviposition biology and La Crosse encephalitis. In year one, we recruited 17 educators to participate in the project, and 15 of those educators returned in year two. All participating educators completed the academy, conducted the oviposition experiment, and informed over 400 students about a variety of careers and disciplines for their students. Here, we present a community-based program that helps to address the problems associated with long-term mosquito surveillance, health and science education and communication, career opportunities, and the community needs of Appalachia, as well as the initial data on the effectiveness of two years of an educator-targeted professional-development program. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Citizen Science Approaches to Vector Surveillance)
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Communication
Middle-School Student Engagement in a Tick Testing Community Science Project
Insects 2021, 12(12), 1136; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12121136 - 18 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 797
Abstract
Studies of tickborne illness have benefited from interactions between scientists and community members. Most participants in community science projects are well-educated adults, but there are anticipated benefits from engaging younger students in research. We evaluated whether an outreach experience for rural middle-school students [...] Read more.
Studies of tickborne illness have benefited from interactions between scientists and community members. Most participants in community science projects are well-educated adults, but there are anticipated benefits from engaging younger students in research. We evaluated whether an outreach experience for rural middle-school students promoted student interest in science and resulted in the generation of samples that could be used for tick testing to assess disease risk. Middle-school students from 78 Wisconsin communities developed interdisciplinary hypotheses about the spread of Lyme disease, identified ticks, and extracted DNA from ticks to assess the prevalence of pathogens Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophillium, and Babesia microti. As a result of this intervention, students were able to successfully complete the research protocol and explain the rationale for completing the experiment. Of student participants, 84.7% reported no difficulty completing the protocol, 66% of the student samples gave reliable PCR results, and 76% of students reported interest in participating in similar experiments. Our study shows that tick outreach programs that incorporate community-based science promote knowledge about Lyme disease, facilitate engagement between students and scientists, and generate samples that can be successfully utilized for pathogen testing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Citizen Science Approaches to Vector Surveillance)
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Review

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Review
All for One Health and One Health for All: Considerations for Successful Citizen Science Projects Conducting Vector Surveillance from Animal Hosts
Insects 2022, 13(6), 492; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13060492 - 24 May 2022
Viewed by 929
Abstract
Many vector-borne diseases that affect humans are zoonotic, often involving some animal host amplifying the pathogen and infecting an arthropod vector, followed by pathogen spillover into the human population via the bite of the infected vector. As urbanization, globalization, travel, and trade continue [...] Read more.
Many vector-borne diseases that affect humans are zoonotic, often involving some animal host amplifying the pathogen and infecting an arthropod vector, followed by pathogen spillover into the human population via the bite of the infected vector. As urbanization, globalization, travel, and trade continue to increase, so does the risk posed by vector-borne diseases and spillover events. With the introduction of new vectors and potential pathogens as well as range expansions of native vectors, it is vital to conduct vector and vector-borne disease surveillance. Traditional surveillance methods can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially when surveillance involves sampling from animals. In order to monitor for potential vector-borne disease threats, researchers have turned to the public to help with data collection. To address vector-borne disease and animal conservation needs, we conducted a literature review of studies from the United States and Canada utilizing citizen science efforts to collect arthropods of public health and veterinary interest from animals. We identified common stakeholder groups, the types of surveillance that are common with each group, and the literature gaps on understudied vectors and populations. From this review, we synthesized considerations for future research projects involving citizen scientist collection of arthropods that affect humans and animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Citizen Science Approaches to Vector Surveillance)
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