This was presented by Mitchell O'Neill as a part of a series of contributed talks from the 2022 FEMC Annual Conference. To learn more about the conference, visit: https://www.uvm.edu/femc/cooperative/conference/2022. Invasive insects like spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) can cause major economic and environmental impacts, and monitoring the spread of these species on a broad scale requires extensive effort from many individuals and organizations. While professional surveys are integral to monitoring efforts, there are always temporal and spatial gaps. Data from community science platforms like iNaturalist are often used to supplement species distribution datasets. The value of community science to monitoring efforts increases further when we actively engage community scientists and direct them to conduct surveys of the greatest importance to natural resource managers. For example, we can direct volunteers to survey the locations, species, and ecosystems where information is most needed, or where help from volunteers is most needed to fill gaps between professional surveys.
In order to direct community scientists to areas where volunteer spotted lanternfly surveys are most needed to complement professional survey efforts, the New York Natural Heritage Program created an online volunteer sign-up map in collaboration with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management. The interactive online map highlights 1km grid squares available for sign-up across New York State, with each block exhibiting high potential for spotted lanternfly introduction, public land access, or known tree-of-heaven infestations. Participants are trained to identify spotted lanternfly and tree-of-heaven (a preferred host plant) and enter presence and absence survey results into iMapInvasives. This concept of community scientists claiming locations to report observations to iMapInvasives has been applied to monitoring programs for forest pests including Beech Leaf Disease and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, and could be applied to other large-scale volunteer survey efforts for invasive species.