the Big Wasp Survey

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Karol

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Migrating the conversation from the 'not much has change here thread':

Doing a national survey on wasp populations is a valuable exercise not least because I believe eusocial wasps are a better sentinel species than honeybees - far more sensitive to human made environmental pressures.

That said the present monitoring method is IMHO woefully wrong on so many levels.

Excusing the use of low efficiency traps to collect samples ignores the unnecessary environmental harm these traps cause just because it is more difficult to educate people rather than tap into and exploit their ignorance! That I'm afraid sums up our University education system in a nutshell. I thought one of the principal aims of this citizen science was to educate citizens about the benefits of wasps (and ecology as a whole).

So here's what I think might be happening: To set up a non destructive system of monitoring using photography as the means of conveying data would take up too much time and effort on the part of the University principal investigators/ project leads. Far easier to dump the grunt work on the poor Biology/Entomology students to keep them occupied for their £9.25k per annum instead of the effort required to teach them something useful. The department gets its grant money and the wheels remain greased.

There are other reasons why I don't like the Big Wasp Survey apart from not being on message and not being ecologically sensitive. It exposes members of the public to what I consider to be an unacceptable level of health risk. Using low efficiency traps increases sting rates in members of the public. The full ramifications of silent sting induced Kounis syndrome are only slowly coming out (innate activation and degranulation of mast cells via toll like receptors leading to cardiovascular insult - heart attacks and strokes in lay speak). Sending dead wasps through the post exposes the mail delivery system to parcel damage and biohazard including unwitting handling of anaphylactic antigens.

There are other things that I could nit pick about such as variability of the wasp season affecting results but hey, life's too short.
 
Migrating the conversation from the 'not much has change here thread':

Doing a national survey on wasp populations is a valuable exercise not least because I believe eusocial wasps are a better sentinel species than honeybees - far more sensitive to human made environmental pressures.

That said the present monitoring method is IMHO woefully wrong on so many levels.

Excusing the use of low efficiency traps to collect samples ignores the unnecessary environmental harm these traps cause just because it is more difficult to educate people rather than tap into and exploit their ignorance! That I'm afraid sums up our University education system in a nutshell. I thought one of the principal aims of this citizen science was to educate citizens about the benefits of wasps (and ecology as a whole).

So here's what I think might be happening: To set up a non destructive system of monitoring using photography as the means of conveying data would take up too much time and effort on the part of the University principal investigators/ project leads. Far easier to dump the grunt work on the poor Biology/Entomology students to keep them occupied for their £9.25k per annum instead of the effort required to teach them something useful. The department gets its grant money and the wheels remain greased.

There are other reasons why I don't like the Big Wasp Survey apart from not being on message and not being ecologically sensitive. It exposes members of the public to what I consider to be an unacceptable level of health risk. Using low efficiency traps increases sting rates in members of the public. The full ramifications of silent sting induced Kounis syndrome are only slowly coming out (innate activation and degranulation of mast cells via toll like receptors leading to cardiovascular insult - heart attacks and strokes in lay speak). Sending dead wasps through the post exposes the mail delivery system to parcel damage and biohazard including unwitting handling of anaphylactic antigens.

There are other things that I could nit pick about such as variability of the wasp season affecting results but hey, life's too short.

Very interesting Karol - I think the idea of citizen science is sound in its place and with certain parameters.
It is a great way to get school students and others engaged in science as it is very accessible which more complex investigations are not. For example, my students investigated rocket seed germination from samples which had been taken to the international space station vs those which had stayed on Earth. So this has to be a positive although the results have to be treated with caution.

These studies also gives a widespread collection of data i.e. all over country which is simply beyond the physical capability of a research group simply because of the numbers involved. Its difficult to see how such a large amount data could be collected otherwise. Any findings can then be perused with more thorough investigations.

You clearly have an issue with academia & wasp traps which has been thoroughly debated elsewhere so I have no wish to go over this territory again.
 
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I don't have an issue with academia. I have a very big issue with Universities and the way they put profit before purpose. I don't conflate Universities with academia.

I have an issue with wasp traps. They should be a last resort and that's not the case with the big wasp survey.

Citizen science has a lot going for it. Just a shame that it couldn't be properly exploited in this instance.
 
I have an issue with wasp traps.

Some interesting angles Karol.

And I agree that there must be a better way to get data.

But is there a cheaper way? as that is what matters to most these days.
 
What could be cheaper and safer than taking photographs?

The sad thing is that using traps is not very scientific and certainly doesn't reflect variability in the wasp lifecycle. So for example if maturation doesn't occur until late September, the Big Wasp Survey will report erronious data and will significantly understate wasp populations.
 
Photographs are cheap, cameras are not.

If you came up with a better and cheaper method of doing this and made a working prototype then you stand more of a change of peoples behaviour.
Show there is a better way.

Maybe an old phone, a macro lens, and a lunch box with a couple of holes in would do the trick? I am sure there will be an app that will tweet pictures when something moves....


I am curious about how you know know so much about wasps, I am new to the forum and what threads would you recommend reading to learn more?
 
Photographs are cheap, cameras are not.

Most people have smart phones with built in high res cameras quite adequate for the job so no cost there.

If you came up with a better and cheaper method of doing this and made a working prototype then you stand more of a change of peoples behaviour.
Show there is a better way.

Wasps do things at different times in their life cycle which are predictable. Wood pulping is one. Sweet feeding on Ivy is another. All it takes is to identify half a dozen sites such as old fence panels or Ivy bushes that are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future and then monitor and photograph wasps visiting the same sites year in and year out. Absolutely no need to kill them or handle them or indeed attract them in such a way as to put members of the public at risk.

Maybe an old phone, a macro lens, and a lunch box with a couple of holes in would do the trick? I am sure there will be an app that will tweet pictures when something moves....

Over engineered and unnecessary.


I am curious about how you know know so much about wasps, I am new to the forum and what threads would you recommend reading to learn more?

Two decades professionally researching wasps and lecturing integrated wasp management to pest controllers through their professional cpd scheme.
 
What could be cheaper and safer than taking photographs?

Well if you want to get samples from throughout the country its simple but in practise a massive task to go to every part of country set up camera, come back get photos then analyse the photo's. Surely you can see this is a massive undertaking.
 
Citizen science has a lot going for it. Just a shame that it couldn't be properly exploited in this instance.

Cannot really see why not. Risk can be managed - large sample pool will 'smooth out' random data. Seems fine to me.
 
I don't conflate Universities with academia.

Apart from a few research institutes there is not much other academia than the Universities; in the UK anyway. A strange distinction.

Universities have to make money to fund research. The Government does not want to fund our Unis then they have to charge fees in order to compete globally. Its unaffordable they say, well I know Irish, German and French students who have not been charges tuition fees. Its actually a question of prioritises, but don't get me started on this one.

The UK Universities are a revered sector - that is why so many foreign students come here to study.
But of course you disagree - strange.
 
Most people have smart phones with built in high res cameras quite adequate for the job so no cost there.



Wasps do things at different times in their life cycle which are predictable. Wood pulping is one. Sweet feeding on Ivy is another. All it takes is to identify half a dozen sites such as old fence panels or Ivy bushes that are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future and then monitor and photograph wasps visiting the same sites year in and year out. Absolutely no need to kill them or handle them or indeed attract them in such a way as to put members of the public at risk.



Over engineered and unnecessary.




Two decades professionally researching wasps and lecturing integrated wasp management to pest controllers through their professional cpd scheme.

I don't understand what you are saying that we need to do to.
What is your answer?

You seem to be shooting everyone down but not putting anything positive out there yourself.

You have no proof of concept.
 
I don't understand what you are saying that we need to do to.

Who is we?

What is your answer?

I would imagine that if the RSPB advocated catching and killing birds in their analogous annual bird watch there'd be an almighty outcry!

You seem to be shooting everyone down but not putting anything positive out there yourself.

Monitoring without killing isn't positive? Okay.

You have no proof of concept.

Ahhh! That sounds like some of the monopolistic speak I hear from Unis.
 
Apart from a few research institutes there is not much other academia than the Universities; in the UK anyway. A strange distinction <snip>.

Nothing strange about the distinction. I don't hold academics to account for the way in which Universities go about profiteering.
 
Nothing strange about the distinction. I don't hold academics to account for the way in which Universities go about profiteering.

The 'profit' you refer to is needed to make the university function as the Government refuses to fund them adequately - what can't you understand about that and why do you have such a problem with it? What would you have them do - have not money to do anything so become cheap. Perfect for the quality of research and teaching nosedives.
If you are referring to some specific courses at specific Unis, then that's a different matter - in any industry/sector there will be poor provision but you cannot tar the whole sector with with sweeping general statements bases on these poor examples.
The real scandalous part of the academic section is the poor employment conditions of many of the non-tenured staff. Continual short term contracts forever - dreadful.
 
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Because we owe it to our young people I will humour you Beebopper. Some of us are priviledged enough to have received degrees under the old system where only 17% of the student population went to Uni based on competition and merit to get free tuition. Now 50% of the student population are encouraged to go to Uni to amass debts of circa £50 to £70k which with compounded interest can grow to £190k. Unis know full well that there simply aren't the course related jobs out there but still miss sell their degrees resulting in about 25% of the student population amassing unimaginable debts before starting out on their careers. That's a lot of economic buying power sunk into self serving institutions that pay their elites massive remuneration and set up spin off businesses to line their own pockets with their Uni grant funded research!

And the symptom you describe for non tenured staff is another manifestation of that profit driven greed. Unis don't want to spend on their students so won't properly fund staff.
 
Because we owe it to our young people I will humour you Beebopper. Some of us are priviledged enough to have received degrees under the old system where only 17% of the student population went to Uni based on competition and merit to get free tuition. Now 50% of the student population are encouraged to go to Uni to amass debts of circa £50 to £70k which with compounded interest can grow to £190k. Unis know full well that there simply aren't the course related jobs out there but still miss sell their degrees resulting in about 25% of the student population amassing unimaginable debts before starting out on their careers. That's a lot of economic buying power sunk into self serving institutions that pay their elites massive remuneration and set up spin off businesses to line their own pockets with their Uni grant funded research!

And the symptom you describe for non tenured staff is another manifestation of that profit driven greed. Unis don't want to spend on their students so won't properly fund staff.

The non-tenure thing happened way before commercialisation of Unis.

The rest of this I basically agree but it is not the fault of Universities. It is the Government and political decisions as I previously stated. You are focussing your ‘anger’ in the wrong direction.
 
There is a sign post on a beach in Australia that asks the public to take a picture with their phone and hashtag it with "coastsnapbyron" - if your unfamiliar with hashtags, it basically allows photographs/messages with a collective topic name to be easily found on multiple social media sites.

This way they can monitor the coast line erosion/tide activity by seeing hundreds of pictures taken per week by the public under that hashtag.

This system of involving the public and using the hashtag could probably be used to better effect in this wasp survey, seeing images and location/weather data etc, only problem is your asking the public to get close enough to take pictures. I already do something similar when I spot a red squirrel, and thankfully I don't need to kill them to update the researchers database :D

ctJV5ym.png
 
There is a sign post on a beach in Australia that asks the public to take a picture with their phone and hashtag it with "coastsnapbyron" - if your unfamiliar with hashtags, it basically allows photographs/messages with a collective topic name to be easily found on multiple social media sites.

This way they can monitor the coast line erosion/tide activity by seeing hundreds of pictures taken per week by the public under that hashtag.

This system of involving the public and using the hashtag could probably be used to better effect in this wasp survey, seeing images and location/weather data etc, only problem is your asking the public to get close enough to take pictures. I already do something similar when I spot a red squirrel, and thankfully I don't need to kill them to update the researchers database :D

https://i.imgur.com/ct..........g][/QUOTE]

Solved....

/grinz/

Bill
 

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