Biodiversity data of flight-active insects from Malaise traps

Responsibility: Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK)

The methodological focus of the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK) is the further development of metabarcoding in order to provide complete evidence of the species spectrum of flight-active insects and plant fragments (e.g. pollen) adhering to them.

Since the majority of the German insect diversity (>30,000 species) consists of flight-active species (over 90% of the species), proven, standardized Malaise traps of the Entomological Society Krefeld are used to collect the samples. In order to investigate whether the diversity of flying insects within a protected area changes along a gradient between the area of use (e.g. agricultural land) and the protected area, the following (insect-related) parameters are collected for each sample:

  • The entire species spectrum in the Malaise trap samples is recorded via metabarcoding and evaluated according to taxonomic and functional aspects.

  • The project partner Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen (Botany) identifies potential food plants of insects and the diversity of approached flowering plants by metabarcoding the pollen introduced by insects into the Malaise traps.

Automated Malais traps, which are used at some selected locations for additional experiments. These traps were developed in the course of the AMMOD project.

The preserved diversity patterns of the insects will be used to assess the effectiveness of protected areas and to develop spatial planning recommendations for their improvement. Furthermore, our investigations will allow a more precise assessment of the occurrence of protected species, species of responsibility, and characteristic species of the habitat types investigated and, if necessary, identify new indicator species for habitat types. Some of the detected species will still be listed as (M)OTUs - (molecular) Operational Taxonomic Units - in the tables, which cannot yet be named, as no corresponding reference is available in the databases. As a rule, however, these units can be assigned to a genus and family, from which functional characteristics of the species communities can be derived. The spatial & temporal distribution of the (M)OTUs can be investigated and compared like named species. In the course of the project, numerous (M)OTUs can be named by regular comparisons with the growing reference databases.

The concrete work steps at the ZFMK include the following steps after delivery of the samples by the Entomological Society Krefeld:

  • Sizing of one half of each Malaise trap sample in three to five classes including the development of routines.

  • Homogenization of each size class to increase the DNA yield.

  • DNA extraction with upscaling to plate scale (96 samples simultaneously).

  • PCR amplification with upscaling to plate scale (96 samples simultaneously).

  • Sequencing of PCR products by an external service provider.

  • Analysis of metabarcoding data and creation of species & OTU tables.

  • Transfer of the data to the DINA coordination.

  • Integration of evidence into the entomological collections.

Dr. Livia Schäffler - Head of the Nature Conservation Ecology Section at the Centre for Biodiversity Monitoring

Dr. Vera Zizka - Research assistant

Dr. Matthias F. Geiger - Research assistant

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