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Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 19–30 | Cite as

Realizing a synergy between research and education: how participation in ant monitoring helps raise biodiversity awareness in a resource-poor country

  • Brigitte BraschlerEmail author
  • Kirsten Mahood
  • Natasha Karenyi
  • Kevin J. Gaston
  • Steven L. Chown
Original Paper

Abstract

Biodiversity-rich, resource-poor countries need to allocate scarce resources to the competing goals of identifying and monitoring their biodiversity and educating their populace about it. Often only relatively wealthy individuals participate in biodiversity-related volunteering, while the poor are left on the margins. We present a case study that shows how monitoring and education can be combined. South African high school scholars from mostly disadvantaged communities participated in ant monitoring in transformed sites and received lessons using their own data. The project provides baseline data on an important insect group in a region where invertebrate monitoring is rare. Participation in a real study enhances the scholars’ interest in science and direct interaction with scientists allows them to enquire about careers they might not otherwise consider. Here we outline how the project works, what participants learnt, and demonstrate that the data provide insights into ant diversity and the effects of landscape transformation.

Keywords

Cape Floristic Region Citizen science Formicidae Science outreach South Africa 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the Western Cape Education Department, T. Botha, the curriculum advisors and teachers, and the many scholars we have worked with for their support. South African National Parks, Cape Nature, S. Milton and W.R.J. Dean, M. van der Bank and various reserve managers provided access to land and permits. C. Boonzaaier, H. Davids, E. Nortje, S. Kritzinger-Klopper, T. Khoza, and several volunteers are thanked for their support over the past 4 years. H. G. Robertson verified some ant identifications. J.C. Roux explained how to spell Iimbovane phonetically. The referees are thanked for their constructive comments. SLC thanks G. Preston for continually asking difficult questions about research relevance. This project is funded by the Centre for Invasion Biology and the UK Darwin Initiative (Ref. 14-012/).

Supplementary material

10841_2009_9221_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (27 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 26 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brigitte Braschler
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kirsten Mahood
    • 2
    • 3
  • Natasha Karenyi
    • 2
    • 4
  • Kevin J. Gaston
    • 1
  • Steven L. Chown
    • 2
  1. 1.Biodiversity and Macroecology Group, Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and ZoologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  3. 3.DennesigSouth Africa
  4. 4.South African National Biodiversity InstituteClaremontSouth Africa

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