DiNArDa e.V.

Digital Natural History Archive Darmstadt e.V. (DiNArDa)

"Only those who know nature will protect it".

– This was already the motto of the nature filmmaker Heinz Sielmann. Today we face a massive insect die-off. Although the population perceives this as threatening and dramatic, knowledge about the biodiversity and biology of insects is almost non-existent.

Also, insects are often negatively annotated, as “creepy-crawlies” or “vermin.” Thus, there are quite few species with positive connotations, such as the honey bee. However, this also creates the false impression that all bees are honey bees and that it should accordingly be a concern of nature conservation to establish as many honey bee colonies as possible. In truth, there are hundreds of wild bee species in Germany – and the protection of this diversity is diametrically opposed by the increasing number of honey bee colonies.

How can we improve the population’s knowledge of insect species and thus enable better protection of insect diversity? This requires low-threshold access and a didactic concept that ideally already appeals to children and young people. A major hurdle is the smallness of most insects – after all, they are almost impossible for the untrained eye to tell apart without a magnifying glass. The exhibition “Microsculpture” by British photographer Levon Biss(http://microsculpture.net/) shows the beauty and colorfulness of insects in photographs of unprecedented resolution and has attracted millions of visitors to museums worldwide.

DiNArDa(www.dinarda.org) is now opening up the third dimension of insects: By developing a novel 3D scanner for small and complex objects, we can create true-to-life digital twins and make them accessible via various platforms. For example, these models can be used as virtual objects in insect identification(https://www.digitib.de/de/tiere-kennenlernen/3d-modelle/) or simply experienced in a playful way(www.sketchfab.com/disc3d). The 3D models thus help improve species knowledge and can also be used in interactive insect learning games(https://store.steampowered.com/app/1008340/Insect_Worlds/).

As part of the BioDivKultur project, DiNArDa will participate in the development of interactive information media on insects. The focus is on insect species in urban green spaces, verges and meadows that benefit, for example, from gentle mowing. In doing so, we hope to contribute to a greater appreciation of the diversity of rather small, inconspicuous insect species in these green spaces.

The BioDivKultur project is funded by the Research Initiative for Biodiversity Conservation of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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