Background: decline of insects
In October 2017, a groundbreaking article by Radboud University and the Krefeld Entomological Society was published in which it was shown that in 27 years' time German nature reserves had seen an average 75% decline in flying insects (Hallmann, 2017). Later, strong decline in flying insects and ground beetles were also reported for our country (Hallmann, 2020).
75% decrease in flying insects over 27 years
To make this research possible, entomologists have had to spend decades doing research, installing and emptying malaise traps, crossing nights to peat moths and emptying endless traps for bottom fauna. Such persistent, highly uniformed research is almost impossible to achieve. That is why in 2018 the DIOPSIS consortium explored the possibilities of automating the observation of insects. This eventually led to DIOPSIS.
In the summer of 2018, some prototypes of the insect camera were shot in employees' backyards. The results were so encouraging that in the winter of 2018-2019 funds were sought to build 100 cameras. With financial support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Nature and Food Quality, the World Wildlife Fund, EIS Insect Knowledge Centre and the Radboud Alumni Fund, we succeeded in developing the necessary software. Commissioned by the provinces of Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland, Zeeland and Gelderland, the cameras could actually be built in 2019. Both the outside of the camera and the hardware on the inside have their own design.
On 8 July 2019, the first DIOPSIS cameras were installed in the Provincial Water Supply Dunes of North Holland. Until the end of September more than 90 cameras have been active for at least 4 weeks each. In some places (Ooijpolder, Soesterberg, Tilburg, Hillegom) cameras have stood next to other observation methods to be able to calibrate them.
DIOPSIS is an acronym for 'Digital Identification Of Photographically Sampled Insect Species'.
DIOPSIS is also the scientific name of a genus of the Steeleye flies (see logo). DIOPSIS was chosen as mascot because the fly seems to look into the world with eyes on stems investigating. By the way, the Steeleye fly is only found in the tropics and subtropics.