Drivers of spatio-temporal variation in mosquito submissions to the citizen science project ‘Mückenatlas’
Intensified travel activities of humans and the ever growing global trade create opportunities of arthropod-borne disease agents and their vectors, such as mosquitoes, to establish in new regions. To update the knowledge of mosquito occurrence and distribution, a national mosquito monitoring programme was initiated in Germany in 2011, which has been complemented by a citizen science project, the ‘Mückenatlas’ since 2012. We analysed the ‘Mückenatlas’ dataset to (1) investigate causes of variation in submission numbers from the start of the project until 2017 and to (2) reveal biases induced by opportunistic data collection. Our results show that the temporal variation of submissions over the years is driven by fluctuating topicality of mosquito-borne diseases in the media and large-scale climate conditions. Hurdle models suggest a positive association of submission numbers with human population, catch location in the former political East Germany and the presence of water bodies, whereas precipitation and wind speed are negative predictors. We conclude that most anthropogenic and environmental effects on submission patterns are associated with the participants’ (recording) behaviour. Understanding how the citizen scientists’ behaviour shape opportunistic datasets help to take full advantage of the available information.