News

Biologists developing global citizen network to monitor insect abundance

A U of A biologist is part of an international team of researchers building a volunteer network of citizen scientists to help monitor the abundance of dragonflies and damselflies.

advertisement

Recent studies have indicated that insect species in general are declining throughout the world and could be headed toward collapse due to intensive agricultural practices, climate change and habitat loss. For many species, however, there isn t enough baseline data to determine trends in insect abundance.

Adam Siepielski, associate professor of biology, is part of a team working on a solution -- establishing a volunteer network that will collect data on odonata, the scientific name for dragonflies and damselflies. Odonata are easy to spot, often vividly colored and an important indicator group of species reflecting environmental changes in freshwater biodiversity.

"Volunteer nature enthusiasts can greatly help to monitor the abundance of dragonflies and damselflies, iconic freshwater sentinels and one of the few nonpollinator insect groups appreciated by the public and amenable to citizen science," the scientists wrote in a paper published in the journal BioScience.

Researchers propose modeling the volunteer network on a similar collection of projects, organizations and individuals dedicated to butterflies. "The network has improved knowledge of not only butterfly geographical distributions but also their relative population sizes across years and the effects of large-scale environmental change," researchers wrote.

"We are hopeful that with similar efforts dedicated to odonata, great strides can be made in our understanding of changes in their abundances and distributions too. They really are amazing animals and fascinating to observe," said Siepielski.

An odonata network would fill in gaps from areas of the world with little information, and incorporate existing data-collection efforts. Ideally, volunteers would collect data at a fixed location for 10 to 15 years, and have a standardized portal to report their findings.

"An army of amateur naturalists may contribute far more data than a small cadre of professional observers," the researchers wrote. "Citizen science promotes biophilia while contributing enormously to understanding large-scale biodiversity loss and environmental change, especially in developing or transitioning regions."

Materials provided by University of Arkansas . Original written by Bob Whitby. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

University of Arkansas. "Biologists developing global citizen network to monitor insect abundance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 September 2020. .

University of Arkansas. "Biologists developing global citizen network to monitor insect abundance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200916131036.htm (accessed September 16, 2020).

advertisement

1

Mar. 3, 2020 — A study has found that small, fiercely predatory damselflies catch and eat hundreds of thousands of insects during a single summer -- in an area surrounding just a single pond. In terms of weight, ...

Oct. 3, 2017 — Researchers have discovered which species adult dragonflies and damselflies prey upon, as modern laboratory techniques have enabled the study of the insects diet. In the study, prey DNA was ...

Dec. 10, 2015 — Only a fifth of the nine million species of animal, plant and fungus thought to occur on earth is known. Dragonflies (which include damselflies) are seen as well-known. Nonetheless researchers ...
Read more on sciencedaily.com
News Topics :
RELATED STORIES :
Science
Many insects, mosses and lichens in the UK are bucking the trend of biodiversity loss, according to a comprehensive analysis of over 5, 000 species led by UCL and the UK...
Science
A paper recently published in Current Biology, led by University of Minnesota researchers, shows that despite the distinct hunting strategies of dragonflies and damselflies, the two groups share key neurons...
Science
Many elasmobranch species, which include sharks, skates, and rays, use estuaries as nurseries, for birthing, and as foraging grounds. Florida s Indian River Lagoon is one of 28 estuaries designated...
Science
For many species of insects, wings are like fingerprints no two patterns are the same. These insects, like many other organisms from leopards to zebrafish, benefit from nature s...
Science
The 10 year plan for conserving biodiversity adopted as part of the International Convention on Biological Diversity CBD failed to reach its targets for 2020. A scientist from Karlsruhe Institute of...