Models for Citizen-Science Insect Data

Full Title

Models to unleash the power of citizen-science insect data for science, policy, education, and conservation


The recent explosion of citizen science programs is a result of an increasingly engaged citizenry eager to document their interactions with nature coupled with the science community’s need for biological data at the largest spatial and temporal scales. Insects have an increasingly high public profile, are known to be sensitive indicators of change, and are key ecosystem service providers. The surge in the number of citizen science insect monitoring programs, together with the recent release of powerful climate products, offers new possibilities to make the most of insect distribution data over continental scales.

Before we can develop the best visualization and analytical platforms to share these data and increase the connection between the public and the scientific, conservation, and policy communities, we must first determine the best approach for utilizing these neglected datasets.

This project assembles a team of experts in informatics, computational biology, and mathematical, statistical, and ecological modeling. The focus will be four diverse insect orders: Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies), Hymenoptera (bees and ants), and Coleoptera (beetles). The three main goals of this Venture are to:

  1. develop general analytical models to extract the most robust population indices from citizen science insect monitoring data;
  2. integrate daily growing degree day models to improve model parameterization and account for changing climates; and
  3. perform cross‐validation analyses for programs with different protocols.

This Venture will be a timely effort to take advantage of the current enthusiasm for citizen science programs and lay the groundwork to develop novel platforms to increase public engagement in understanding our current biodiversity crisis.

Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
Daniel Sheldon, University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Justin Calabrese, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Mariana Abarca, George Washington University
John Abbott, St. Edward's University
Greg Breed, Harvard Forest
Jason Bried, Oklahoma State University
Emily Dennis, University of Kent
Thomas Dietterich, Oregon State University
Sam Droege, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Nick Haddad, North Carolina State University
Rich Hatfield, Xerces Society
Rebecca Hutchinson, Oregon State University
Maxim Larrivée, Montréal Insectarium
Edith Law, Harvard University
Gretchen LeBuhn, San Francisco State University
John Losey, Cornell University
Eleni Matechou, University of Kent
César Nufio, University of Colorado
Karen Oberhauser, Univ. of MN
John Pickering, Discover Life, University of Georgia
Jeffrey Pippen, MPG Ranch
John Sauer, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Sarah Saunders, University of Minnesota
Reto Schmucki, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle – Paris
Tyson Wepprich, North Carolina State University
Kevin Winner, University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Elise Zipkin, Michigan State University