Using citizen science to observe plant-insect interactions in the city

The successful conservation of insect biodiversity in urban environments relies, in part, on making insects and their ecological interactions tangible to people. But given that most insect species are small and fast, they remain largely unknown to onlookers, and are thus excluded from many conservation and citizen science programs.

To overcome this, CAUL Hub researchers Blythe Vogel and Luis Mata have helped host a series of ‘pollinator observatories’ workshops at Westgate Park. During these workshops, citizen scientists learn to identify different native and non-native pollinators and make observations of their interactions with different indigenous plants either on paper or using the CAUL Hub Urban Wildlife App. Not only does this provide researchers with critical data on the factors and seasonality driving plant-pollinator interactions in urban greenspaces, it is also helping to reconnect people with nature and showcase the benefits that nature provides to people and other species. Earlier this month, Westgate Biodiversity Bili Nursery & Landcare, City of Melbourne and CAUL Hub hosted the ‘Summer Citizen Science Workshop’ – the seventh and final in the series of pollinator observatories sessions at Westgate Park. Over 30 participants had the opportunity to learn about the project’s findings thus far, including the high diversity of native flies and bees that call the park home.

Featured image: Citizen scientists in Westgate Park. Credit: Luis Mata

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