The Citizen Science Project ‘Mueckenatlas’ Helps Monitor the Distribution and Spread of Invasive Mosquito Species in Germany
The citizen science project ‘Mueckenatlas’ (mosquito atlas) was implemented in early 2012 to improve mosquito surveillance in Germany. Citizens are asked to support the spatiotemporal mapping of culicids by submitting mosquito specimens collected in their private surroundings. The Mueckenatlas has developed into an efficient tool for data collection with close to 30,000 mosquitoes submitted by the end of 2015. While the vast majority of submissions included native mosquito species, a small percentage represented invasive species. The discovery of Aedes albopictus (Skuse) (Diptera: Culicidae), Aedes japonicus japonicus (Theobald) (Diptera: Culicidae) and Aedes koreicus (Edwards) (Diptera: Culicidae) specimens via the Mueckenatlas project prompted targeted monitoring activities in the field which produced additional information on the distribution of these species in Germany. Among others, Mueckenatlas submissions led to the detection of three populations of Ae. j. japonicus in West, North and Southeast Germany in 2012, 2013, and 2015, respectively. As demonstrated by on-site monitoring, the origins of Ae. j. japonicus specimens submitted to the Mueckenatlas mirror the distribution areas of the four presently known German populations as found by active field sampling (the fourth population already reported prior to the launch of the Mueckenatlas). The data suggest that a citizen science project such as the Mueckenatlas may aid in detecting changes in the mosquito fauna and can therefore be used to guide the design of more targeted field surveillance activities.