In the context of our efforts to maintain Biodiversity we are in frequent contact with the Natural History Museum of Crete but also, for instance, with colleagues at the Natural History Museum in Bonn, Germany.
The application that was centrally coordinated in Athens to integrate the entire Asterousia mountain range into the UNESCO Man & Biosphere program has been succesfull. Listaros is located exactly on the border of the so-called transition zone. The executive board sent a letter of support to the project coordinator in Athens in March 2020.
In April 2021 and in close collaboration with the Natural History Museum of the University of Crete (NHMC), the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the Zoological Research Museum Alexander König in Bonn, and the Entomological Society of Krefeld we launched a citizen science project to assess the insect Biodiversity in Listaros.
Insects are crucial components of almost all ecosystems performing important functions. Having recorded more than 1.5 million insect species, we know that insects pollinate flowers promoting the continuation and evolution of the plant kingdom. Bees, wasps, butterflies, many flies, mosquitoes, beetles, bugs and ants, pollinate thousands of species of flowering plants. They control the populations of other animals and plants and aerate the soils, while many of them feed on dead biomass (dead animals or fallen trees), thereby recycling nutrients back into the soil and contributing to the soil horizon. Many beetles and ants dig tunnels and by creating water channels, they benefit the plants again. Many species of insects benefit human societies directly, producing honey, silk, wax, etc., while applications related to the world of insects in medicine and other scientific fields, increase daily. Finally, insect extinction can also cause substantial economic damage, as it induces a decrease in fruit plantation pollination.
In short: "If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos" (E. O. Wilson).
The flying insects will be sampled via so-called Malaise traps (see video below) and their biodiversity will be assessed via DNA sequencing and computational methods.
Our goals are to learn more about the understudied insect biodiversity in the Asterousia mountains. 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.
We consider the open invitation to all primary schools in the municipality of Phaistos to come and visit the traps and learn more about the project as being a great asset of this project.
Trap visits for schools can be arranged via email