Ants are considered a useful model for biodiversity monitoring and several of their characteristics make them promising for citizen science (CS) projects. Involving a wide range of public figures into collecting valuable data on the effect of human impact on ant biodiversity, the School of Ants (SoA) project represents one of the very few attempts to explore the potential of these insects in CS. Through the collaboration with the "BioBlitz Lombardia" project, we tested the SoA protocol on 12 Northern Italy parks, ranging from urban green to subalpine protected sites. As a result, we obtained some of the very first quantitative data characterizing the ants of this region, recording 30 species and highlighting some interesting ecological patterns. These data revealed the ubiquitous presence of the recently taxonomically defined cryptic species Tetramorium immigrans, which appears to be probably introduced in the region. We also discuss advantages and criticisms encountered applying the SoA protocol, originally intended for schools, to new categories of volunteers, from BioBlitz participants to park operators, suggesting best practices based on our experience.
Public Engagement Provides First Insights on Po Plain Ant Communities and Reveals the Ubiquity of the Cryptic Species Tetramorium immigrans (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) / Castracani, Cristina; Spotti, Fiorenza Augusta; Schifani, Enrico; Giannetti, Daniele; Ghizzoni, Martina; Grasso, Donato Antonio; Mori, Alessandra. - In: INSECTS. - ISSN 2075-4450. - 11:10(2020), p. 678. [10.3390/insects11100678]