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Crowd surveillance: estimating citizen science reporting probabilities for insects of biosecurity concern : Implications for plant biosecurity surveillance

Caley, Peter, Welvaert, Marijke, Barry, Simon C.
Journal of pest science 2020 v.93 no.1 pp. 543-550
Citrus, Diaphorina citri, Monochamus, biosecurity, color, forest industries, insects, introduced species, models, monitoring, pests, probability, streams
Data streams arising from citizen reporting activities continue to grow, yet the information content within these streams remains unclear, and methods for addressing the inherent reporting biases little developed. Here, we quantify the major influence of physical insect features (colour, size, morphology, pattern) on the propensity of citizens to upload photographic sightings to online portals, and hence to contribute to biosecurity surveillance. After correcting for species availability, we show that physical features and pestiness are major predictors of reporting probability. The more distinctive the visual features, the higher the reporting probabilities—potentially providing useful surveillance should the species be an unwanted exotic. Conversely, the reporting probability for many small, nondescript high priority pest species is unlikely to be sufficient to contribute meaningfully to biosecurity surveillance, unless they are causing major harm. The lack of citizen reporting of recent incursions of small, nondescript exotic pests supports the model. By examining the types of insects of concern, industries or environmental managers can assess to what extent they can rely on citizen reporting for their surveillance needs. The citrus industry, for example, probably cannot rely on passive unstructured citizen data streams for surveillance of the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri). In contrast, the forestry industry may consider that citizen detection and reporting of species of the large and colourful insects such as pine sawyers (Monochamus spp.) may be sufficient for their needs. Incorporating citizen surveillance into the general surveillance framework is an area for further research.