A practical guide provides advice for citizen scientists on monitoring pollinators in their local area, to encourage more people to provide much-needed data on how our insects are faring.

We know that many pollinators of wildflowers, including species of wild bees, hoverflies and moths, are declining in the UK, and much of the data to show this has come from volunteers recording their observations of wildlife.

The free booklet, Pollinator Monitoring and Citizen Science, which is available online, has been produced by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).

It is a readable, but comprehensive, guide for people setting up their own pollinator monitoring. It outlines the best techniques to help people design a format that best works for them, their community and the pollinators.

UKCEH ecologist Dr Michael Pocock, one of the authors of the guide, says: “Insects perform the vital job of pollination and can be found wherever there are flowers, such as people’s gardens and balconies, city centre parks and the wider countryside including our wonderful network of local nature reserves.

“Many people are now taking action to support pollinators, such as planting flowers, and it is important to monitor the impacts of these actions. Citizen science is a great way to gather this evidence and help people locally to engage with nature.”

The guide covers:
•    Why monitor pollinators?
•    Using citizen science for pollinator monitoring and public engagement
•    A starter’s guide to pollinator monitoring with citizen science – forming teams, methods to monitor pollinators, and what to do with the data you have collected 
•    Linking up with existing schemes and projects.

The guide was written in close consultation with users from across the UK. Co-author Dr Miranda Bane explains: “It was important that we created this guide for the users, led by their needs and interests. I’d like to thank everyone who shared their thoughts and experiences. It is wonderful to know that there is such enthusiasm for pollinator monitoring.”

Tanya St Pierre of Cumbria Wildlife Trust says: “This new guide is the definitive go-to guide for anyone wanting to monitor pollinators. Using it will help us design pollinator monitoring at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, and I cannot wait to share it with the many community groups that we work with.” 

The guide is available on the research sharing website Zenodo

Further information

Pollinator Monitoring and Citizen Science was funded by Defra through the Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment programme, and was produced by UKCEH and JNCC.

UKCEH is involved with several of the schemes discussed in the guide. The UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (UKPoMS, including the citizen science Flower-Insect Timed Counts) and the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) are schemes, including citizen science, that measure trends in pollinator and butterfly populations and target conservation efforts. The Biological Records Centre is a focus in the UK for terrestrial and freshwater species recording, that works closely with the voluntary recording community, through support of national recording schemes and societies, and hosts iRecord, the app and website for recording species observations.

UKCEH also supports best practice in citizen and community science through the production of other user guides.