Community scientists help monitor insects

Volunteer community scientists are helping researchers count dragonflies and damselflies on the landscape. Credit: Gerry Smith

Volunteer community scientists are monitoring the abundance of dragonflies and damselflies in an effort that will help scientists track insect declines around the world. Scientists, who published their research recently in BioScience, hope the initiative will help provide baseline data for the number of insects in the order that includes damselflies and dragonflies. While recent studies have shown that insects are declining worldwide, scientists don’t know much about many how individual species are faring. Scientists hope the public can help identify dragonflies or damselflies, since their vivid colors make them easy to spot. These insects are also an indicator species for environmental changes in freshwater biodiversity, biologists say. As part of the project, volunteers will ideally collect data at a fixed location for 10 to 15 years. “An army of amateur naturalists may contribute far more data than a small cadre of professional observers,” the researchers wrote.

Read more in BioScience.