The first year of citizen science research investigating spider species and biodiversity called Pók-Háló has come to an end: the Agro-Environmental Research Institute (ÖMKi) assessed the numbers of spiders in home gardens from spring to autumn last year with public participation. The search received hundreds of garden recordings and thousands of photographs from across the country.
The volunteer researchers' mission was to capture the octopuses. Few people know about the different types of spiders, and many people are a little afraid of them, although they are excellent indicators of the condition of the habitat: a large number of spider species indicates a high level of biodiversity. There are more than 800 species of spiders in our country, of which several dozen species can be found in one garden – says the statement of the research institute sent to MTI on Tuesday.
As written, ÖMKi specialists presented the first results of the program at SEEN (Social Engagement in the Environment Network) Hungary 2024 – a conference on citizen science, i.e. community-based scientific research. The large number of spider species discovered in the gardens exceeded all researchers' expectations.
The research was conducted within the framework of the Social Responsibility Programme, which received a special award at the 4th DoingGood – CSR Prize.
Although citizen science, i.e. research with public participation, has only recently become known in Hungary, based on some pioneering local examples and international practices, it is clear that the contact of researchers and volunteers carries enormous added value in terms of interesting scientific research. Highlighted in the ad.
That's why ÖMKi announced two community-based research last year, including the citizen science program Pók-Háló created around the theme of biodiversity, the purpose of which was to show the extent of our gardening habits and the degree of naturalness of nature through the collection of spiders. They wrote that our garden has an impact on the environment that develops there for the living communities.
According to the information, from the beginning of May to the end of October last year, voluntary data senders could register their gardens on the ÖMKi website and upload their observations in the form of photographs.
Photographs of spiders were reviewed by specialists, observed specimens were identified and the collected data recorded in mapping databases.
As they wrote, at the end of the program, the researchers had more data than expected: 214 participants recorded a total of 223 gardens from 184 different sites in Hungary. Accordingly, it can be said that observations came from almost every landscape unit in Hungary.
A total of 3,330 images from 223 gardens were uploaded to the project's online interface, from which the researchers obtained 2,800 evaluable data, meaning that in 2,800 cases they were able to identify the spider in the image at the household level at least. Based on the amount of images received, a total of 127 spider species from 29 spider families were detected in the registered parks.
The most common spider species identified in Pók-Háló's participatory research are: crucifer spiders, wolf spiders, hermit spiders, hermit spiders, dwarf spiders, hermit spiders, and jumping spiders.
Rare and particularly interesting species are also found in home gardens: for example, the cross-bred cooling spider, which is particularly common near wetlands, or the oak leaf spider, which is mainly associated with oak forests.
The researchers examined the effect of the ratio of natural/semi-natural habitats within a park on species richness in parks, they wrote. That is why they compared the data provided by the garden owner with the relative richness of spider species in the gardens, and as a result they found that there is a significant negative relationship between species richness and the percentage of surface with artificial cover. This means that as the proportion of paved surface increases, species richness in gardens decreases somewhat.
ÖMKI also points out in its announcement that the use of chemicals (one or more times a year) leads to a decrease in the number of spider species compared to gardens that do not use chemicals, meaning that it has a negative impact. On the biodiversity of parks.