The Insect Biome Atlas (IBA)
The Insect Biome Atlas (IBA) is a large-scale insect biodiversity project aimed at charting the insect faunas of Sweden and Madagascar and their associated microbiomes using high-throughput DNA sequencing of Malaise trap and soil samples. The main aim is to describe the insect faunas of these two biologically and geologically very different countries in unprecedented detail. The Swedish insect fauna consists of postglacial immigrants and is one of the best studied in the world. Madagascar is the world’s most important biodiversity hotspot, with a long period of evolution in isolation and where many species are critically endangered if not already extinct.
During the field phase in 2019-2020, weekly samples were collected in both countries for a 12-month period. Insects were collected using Malaise traps: 200 traps in Sweden and 50 in Madagascar. Several other types of samples and ecological measurements were also collected at all trap sites to gather a full understanding of the ecological roles of the organisms that comprise the insect biomes and associated microbiomes. In total, IBA now has access to more than 8,000 insect community samples. The identification of all insects in the material and the organisms they interact with, such as pathogens as well as symbiotic fungi and bacteria, will be achieved using novel high-throughput DNA sequencing techniques. The sequencing work is currently ongoing, and we expect the full data to be available for analysis by participating researchers in early 2022.
In Sweden the Malaise traps were managed by over 100 volunteers, which makes this project one of the largest citizen science projects to take place in Scandinavia. About 30 of the 200 Swedish traps remain active in a long term study which will provide invaluable data on how the composition and size of the insect fauna varies over time.
The Insect Biome Atlas is a collaboration between The Swedish Museum of Natural History, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Stockholm University, Station Linné and the Madagascar Biodiversity Center. The project is funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.
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