USF researchers launch citizen science-driven mosquito-tracking dashboard

To combat the ongoing threat of mosquito-borne diseases worldwide, University of South Florida researchers have launched a citizen science-driven mosquito-tracking dashboard — a scalable solution proven effective in a recent USF study.

Funded by a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation, the study and the Global Mosquito Monitoring Panel are part of a large-scale project to create global surveillance of mosquito-borne diseases with automatic identification of mosquitoes.

The dashboard collects data from three partner apps – Mosquito Alert, NASA’s GLOBE Observer, and iNaturalist. Every app uses citizen science, where ordinary people around the world submit photos of mosquitoes using their smartphone.

With the aggregated international data, the dashboard – which can be accessed via a computer browser or mobile device – has the potential to provide data with frequency and geographic accuracy otherwise impossible due to cost and other limitations.

This dashboard represents a consolidation of global citizen science platforms for mosquito monitoring and control. This tool will help mosquito control personnel search for and destroy invasive species and monitor disease vectors on an international basis by utilizing the geo-referenced computers that people carry in their pockets every day: their smartphones.”

Ryan Carney, principal investigator, assistant professor of integrative biology

Each year, mosquitoes cause nearly 700 million infections and more than a million deaths – making mosquitoes the deadliest animal on Earth. Since only a small percentage of mosquito species transmit diseases, intensive surveillance and accurate identification are critical to societal defense.

Given the general shortage of vaccines and treatments, there is a general need to increase and sustain mosquito monitoring and habitat mitigation worldwide. The real-time data available on this dashboard will help researchers, mosquito control staff and policy makers to detect disease vectors early.

To test the effectiveness of citizen science in mosquito monitoring, Carney and a team of three students from the University of South Florida asked citizen scientists to target primary vectors of Zika virus, yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya. Not only were citizen scientists successful in identifying vectors, their efforts resulted in the first iNaturalist observations in the U.S. Aedes scapularisIt is an invasive species that causes yellow fever. The documents were shared with local vector control officials in Texas and serve as a monitoring model in Florida, where the species has recently invaded.

The study, which was recently published in a special issue of the journal Insects, will serve as a reference for the future planning and implementation of citizen science projects.

For the rest of the grant, University of South Florida engineering professor Sriram Chellappan will lead efforts to train and test artificial intelligence algorithms to create image recognition software. The software, due to launch this fall, will be used to identify mosquito species in scientific photographs of uploaded citizens.

“Our algorithms for species identification are particularly accurate in detecting critical mosquito vectors,” Chelapan said. “It will provide valuable tools for citizen-assisted surveillance for disease control.”

The algorithms will be tested during a new campaign just launched in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track invasive malaria vectors in urban areas. Anopheles Stephensi In Africa. Citizen scientists in Africa are encouraged to share photos of their mosquitoes on to help uncover.

“Because this work is more focused on Africa, the project can help prevent mosquito-borne diseases in susceptible populations and prevent outbreaks of deadly diseases,” said Karlin Rivera, an undergraduate student researcher working on the grant in Carney’s lab. “This project has major implications for the world of artificial intelligence and disease prevention.”

This project is also in collaboration with the Wilson Center Science and Technology Innovation Program, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, NASA for Earth Science Education, and the US Department of State.


University of South Florida

Journal reference:

Carney, R.M., et al. (2022) Integrating global citizen science platforms to enable next-generation monitoring of invasive mosquitoes and mosquito vectors. insects.

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