Traps and code: assessing insect biodiversity in Southern Crete

16. April 2021

HITS group leader Alexandros Stamatakis (Computational Molecular Evolution) is one of the coordinators in a citizen science project to asses insect biodiversity in Southern Crete, Greece. The cultural committee of Listaros village just started to sample flying insects in special traps. The project is carried out in close collaboration with the Natural History Museum of the University of Crete (NHMC), the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS), the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Zoological Research Museum Alexander König in Bonn, and the Entomological Society of Krefeld.

One of the Malaise traps used to sample the insects. Photo: Stamatakis

The flying insects will be sampled via so-called Malaise traps, and their biodiversity will be assessed via DNA sequencing and computational methods developed by Alexandros Stamatakis and his CME group at HITS. This pilot sampling project will last for exactly one year to cover all seasonal insects. Further analogous studies are planned if this initial pilot study is successful. The traps have been kindly provided by the entomological society of Krefeld, Germany.

“This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the understudied insect biodiversity in the Asterousia, in particular now that the entire mountain range has become a UNESCO Man & Biosphere reserve. In addition, such a citizen science project (i.e., the traps were set up and are operated by laymen) can help to raise the awareness about the importance of insect biodiversity in the western Messara plain,” says Alexandros Stamatakis.

Read more about the project on the Klimatogi website.

Media reports:

Article in Patris
Article in Candiadoc
Article in Cretan magazine

Radio ERT Iraklio Interview

More about Stamatakis´ research on the evolution of insects

About HITS

The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.

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