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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Science Policy

Regional Insect Inventories Require Long Time, Extensive Spatial Sampling and Good Will
Published: Monday, April 22, 2013
Author: Simone Fattorini

by Simone Fattorini

Understanding how faunistic knowledge develops is of paramount importance to correctly evaluate completeness of insect inventories and to plan future research at regional scale, yet this is an unexplored issue. Aim of this paper was to investigate the processes that lead to a complete species inventory at a regional level for a beetle family. The tenebionid beetles of Latium region (Italy) were analysed as a case study representative of general situations. A comprehensive faunistic database including 3,561 records spanning from 1871 to 2010 was realized examining 25,349 museum specimens and published data. Accumulation curves and non-parametric estimators of species richness were applied to model increase in faunistic knowledge over time, through space and by collectors’ number. Long time, large spatial extent and contribution of many collectors were needed to obtain a reliable species inventory. Massive sampling was not effective in recovering more species. Amateur naturalists (here called parafaunists) were more efficient collectors than professional entomologists. Museum materials collected by parafaunists over long periods and large spatial extent resulted to be a cost effective source of faunistic information with small number of collected individuals. It is therefore important to valuate and facilitate the work of parafaunists as already suggested for parataxonomists. By contrast, massive collections by standardized techniques for ecological research seem to be of scarce utility in improving faunistic knowledge, but their value for faunistic studies may be enhanced if they are conducted in poorly surveyed areas.
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