A photograph-based monitoring system was developed to involve citizen scientists in monitoring sites in western North Carolina and northern Georgia where the predators Sasajiscymnus tsugae (Sasaji & McClure) and Laricobius nigrinus Fender had been released as part of the U.S. Forest Service’s biological control program for Adelges tsugae Annand (hemlock woolly adelgid). The study was divided into an initial phase conducted during 2006 and 2007 in Jackson and Macon counties, NC, and Rabun County, GA, and a second phase conducted from 2008 to 2010 in Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, and Union counties, GA. Over the course of the study, 32 volunteers monitored 27 predator release sites and provided 4,356 photographs from which data were obtained. Data from photographs included the number of A. tsugae ovisacs present at each sample site and hemlock needle loss on photographed branches. To ensure accuracy in counting A. tsugae and assessing hemlock needle loss, personnel from Clemson University’s A. tsugae insectary evaluated each photograph for data collection. The citizen scientist volunteers participating in this study allowed us to obtain a large amount of quality data from across the wide geographic range of predator release sites. Obtaining that amount of data would not have been possible using only our laboratory personnel. This study shows that including dedicated and properly trained volunteers in large-scale forest surveys was an effective way to dramatically increase the amount of data we could obtain for use in assessing trends in both the numbers of A. tsugae present and hemlock needle loss at predator release sites.

Source: BioOne Online Journals – Incorporating Citizen Science into Monitoring Hemlock Following Predator Releases for Adelges tsugae (Hemiptera: Adelgidae) Management

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