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  • 1. Karlsson, Dave
    et al.
    Hartop, Emily
    Forshage, Mattias
    Jaschhof, Mathias
    Ronquist, Fredrik
    The Swedish Malaise Trap Project: A 15 Year Retrospective on a Countrywide Insect Inventory2020In: Biodiversity Data Journal, ISSN 1314-2836, E-ISSN 1314-2828, Vol. 8, article id e47255Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The Swedish Malaise Trap Project (SMTP) is one of the most ambitious insect inventories ever attempted. The project was designed to target poorly known insect groups across a diverse range of habitats in Sweden. The field campaign involved the deployment of 73 Malaise traps at 55 localities across the country for three years (2003-2006). Over the past 15 years, the collected material has been hand sorted by trained technicians into over 300 taxonomic fractions suitable for expert attention. The resulting collection is a tremendous asset for entomologists around the world, especially as we now face a desperate need for baseline data to evaluate phenomena like insect decline and climate change. Here, we describe the history, organisation, methodology and logistics of the SMTP, focusing on the rationale for the decisions taken and the lessons learned along the way. The SMTP represents one of the early instances of community science applied to large-scale inventory work, with a heavy reliance on volunteers in both the field and the laboratory. We give estimates of both staff effort and volunteer effort involved. The project has been funded by the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative; in total, the inventory has cost less than 30 million SEK (approximately 3.1 million USD). Based on a subset of the samples, we characterise the size and taxonomic composition of the SMTP material. Several different extrapolation methods suggest that the material comprises around 20 million specimens in total. The material is dominated by Diptera (75% of the specimens) and Hymenoptera (15% of specimens). Amongst the Diptera, the dominant groups are Chironomidae (37% of specimens), Sciaridae (15%), Phoridae (13%), Cecidomyiidae (9.5%) and Mycetophilidae (9.4%). Within Hymenoptera, the major groups are Ichneumonidae (44% of specimens), Diaprioidea (19%), Braconidae (9.6%), Platygastroidea (8.5%) and Chalcidoidea (7.9%). The taxonomic composition varies with latitude and season. Several Diptera and Hymenoptera groups are more common in non-summer samples (collected from September to April) and in the North, while others show the opposite pattern. About 1% of the total material has been processed and identified by experts so far. This material represents over 4,000 species. One third of these had not been recorded from Sweden before and almost 700 of them are new to science. These results reveal the large amounts of taxonomic work still needed on Palaearctic insect faunas. Based on the SMTP experiences, we discuss aspects of planning and conducting future large-scale insect inventory projects using mainly traditional approaches in relation to more recent approaches that rely on molecular techniques.

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