Citizen science-based bumblebee monitoring is a pillar of the Austrian wild bee survey. Most wild bee species can only be distinguished under a microscope. The genus of bumblebees (Bombus) is an exception and can usually be distinguished at species level after a training phase in the field (see Gokcezade et al., 2010), so that not only professionals can help with the observation and recording of bumblebees. Bumblebee monitoring ties in with the already existing reporting platform "naturbeobachtung.at" of the Austrian Society for Nature Conservation.
Through numerous initiatives such as bumblebee identification courses and excursion offers, a citizen science community with very good expertise has been formed in recent years. Since 2014, more than 61,000 observations of all bumblebee species currently occurring in Austria have been reported by over 700 reporters via web and app. In 2021 alone, 12,600 bumblebee observations were received. More than 51,000 reports could be checked, corrected if necessary and confirmed by professionals. Within the framework of the project, the reporting platform is to be expanded to include the option of transect counting (previously non-standardised individual observations) and interested participants are to be motivated, trained and supported.
The aim is to develop a functioning citizen science network in the next two years, which will be used in the long term. We aim to cooperate with other European countries that have established similar projects in order to address the ongoing biodiversity crisis on an international level. In the future, trends for individual populations are to be derived from the data and conservation measures improved.