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The hidden world of insects at the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen


Arise will use autonomous cameras to map insect diversity. We installed the first ones near Amsterdam this month. This pilot experiment will also tell us if attempts at keeping the fallow deer out of certain areas work, and if they help.


The thing in the picture above is a so-called Diopsis camera: a fully automated system for insect monitoring. It runs on solar power, and takes a picture every ten seconds; it even has an AI that helps recognize the animals it photographed. These incredible machines will hopefully play a large role in the field work part of Arise.

The first cameras were deployed in July in the Amsterdam dune ecosystem. As we made our way through the dunes to the camera sites, countless fallow deer watched us from the surrounding grassland. There are hundreds of them in the nature reserve. Which is why Waternet, the company that manages the area, has put up deer-proof fences in some areas.

Pilot This pilot experiment will provide additional information on whether local biodiversity increases and how it changes when the fallow deer are excluded from certain locations.

At the end of July, ARISE Monitoring Demonstration Site team lead Dr. W. Daniel Kissling and Monitoring Demonstration Site Manager Rotem Zilber met with UvA-IBED PhD candidate Daan Kinsbergen and Waternet adviseur natuurbeheer Luc Geelen to deploy the autonomous DIOPSIS insect cameras in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen.


The ARISE Monitoring Demonstration Sites will be used throughout the project to test out various autonomous biodiversity monitoring equipment, which will provide useful information to the ARISE digital species identification team, and showcase the abilities of ARISE.


Emergence traps

The deployment of DIOPSIS insect cameras this summer is a pilot study which will provide us with insights into the taxa present at the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. These cameras will be used to research the insect biodiversity in herbivory exclosures, where fauna and flora is protected from intense grazing pressure by fallow deer. Additionally, the data will be compared to the findings of traditional emergence traps – the little black “tents” seen on the picture above.


The results of this pilot will help not only ARISE, but provide additional data on the insect diversity present at the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen for Waternet. They can use this to gauge the effectiveness of keeping the deer out of the exclosures. The addition of automated methods such as the DIOPSIS insect cameras to the pyramid-shaped emergence traps will provide a comparison between traditional and automated monitoring methods, and provide additional data on the insect diversity present.

Text & Photography: Rotem Zilber, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam.