Public outreach and biological recording in the UK: Applications for biocontrol?
Abstract: The Harlequin Ladybird Survey was an early online recording project, set up in the UK in 2005 to track the spread and study the effects of the non-native biological control agent Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Shortly afterwards the UK Ladybird Survey website was launched. The Harlequin Ladybird Survey was subsequently used as a model to develop a recording programme for invasive alien species – Recording Invasive Species Counts – in which thirteen animal and eight plant species were targeted for recording by the public. In this paper we discuss our strategies for engaging the public in these projects, including the use of online recording and Smartphone apps. We then briefly outline the research outputs generated by these large and high-quality datasets submitted by the public. Finally, we consider potential crossover of our strategies in the field of biological control.