Citizen science boosts the monitoring of protected saproxylic beetles!
Rapid assessments of population distribution and consistency for endangered species is mandatory to implement appropriate conservation measures. However, this is often unaffordable for numerous invertebrate species, both in terms of time and economic resources. However, the technological development and a rather new wave of citizens involvement now allows to imagine that Citizen science has the potential to provide a large number of records. These data might then facilitate the evaluation of extinction risks.
Large saproxylic beetles, the target species of the LIFE Project “Monitoring of Insects with Public Participation” (MIPP project) represent an ideal group to assess the potential of citizen science to map distributions on a large scale geographic distribution. In a recent paper we compared data gathered by the citizens within the MIPP project with distributional data from the Italian official national species inventory, for three pan European beetles species protected under the Habitats Directive: Lucanus cervus, Morimus asper/funereus and Rosalia alpina.
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Our data, published in Biological Conservation, show that (a) Citizen science data provided new range data on the saproxylic target species, (b) integration of the two datasets resulted in an increase in the distributional ranges of up to one third which (c) might help in estimating spatial parameters for the IUCN Red List assessment.
Our study shows the potential and the efficacy of citizen science projects as rapid tools to provide reliable distributional data for neglected species of high conservation priority., and we hope this might in turn boost the involvement of citizens into science projects.
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