Insect Bus Monitoring (IBM): Public transport records Austrian insect biodiversity

Insects are an essential part of many ecosystems and provide important ecosystem services. In recent decades, however, the number and diversity of insects has decreased dramatically and a wide variety of measures are therefore being taken to counteract insect decline. For the evaluation and improvement of these insect-promoting measures, it is essential to have an appropriate level of knowledge about the occurrence of insects and their temporal and spatial changes. However, monitoring insects using conventional methods is time-consuming and costly, and is typically limited to smaller areas. With an estimated 40,000 insect species in Austria, only a fraction of this diversity has ever been investigated.

This is where the present IBM project comes in: With the help of post buses, information on insects occurring in certain areas will be collected on a large scale throughout Austria by washing off the insect remains that accumulate on the windshields and examining them using high-throughput DNA sequencing technology. In a pilot project carried out in Tyrol in 2021, more than 700 insect species have already been detected on the buses, including protected and invasive species. In the present project, this innovative approach to insect monitoring will be fundamentally evaluated and validated in four regions of Austria. The IBM project will also focus on knowledge transfer and public relations in order to raise awareness of the importance of insects and the monitoring of these animals.

The project is based at the Department of Zoology at the University of Innsbruck and is headed by Prof. Michael Traugott. In addition to Austrian Postbus AG, which is providing its extensive route network as a project partner, various stakeholders will be involved in the field of official nature conservation and biodiversity monitoring. The IBM project is thus intended to make an important contribution to a future time- and cost-efficient nationwide monitoring of Austrian insect biodiversity.

AE members involved in the project: Michael Traugott (PI), Marjana Ljubisavljevic

Funding: The project is financed by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology within the Austrian Biodiversity Fund.

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