Comparisons of Citizen Science Data-Gathering Approaches to Evaluate Urban Butterfly Diversity.

Research paper by Kathleen L KL Prudic, Jeffrey C JC Oliver, Brian V BV Brown, Elizabeth C EC Long

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: Insects


By 2030, ten percent of earth's landmass will be occupied by cities. Urban environments can be home to many plants and animals, but surveying and estimating biodiversity in these spaces is complicated by a heterogeneous built environment where access and landscaping are highly variable due to human activity. Citizen science approaches may be the best way to assess urban biodiversity, but little is known about their relative effectiveness and efficiency. Here, we compare three techniques for acquiring data on butterfly (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) species richness: trained volunteer Pollard walks, Malaise trapping with expert identification, and crowd-sourced iNaturalist observations. A total of 30 butterfly species were observed; 27 (90%) were recorded by Pollard walk observers, 18 (60%) were found in Malaise traps, and 22 (73%) were reported by iNaturalist observers. Pollard walks reported the highest butterfly species richness, followed by iNaturalist and then Malaise traps during the four-month time period. Pollard walks also had significantly higher species diversity than Malaise traps.