A comparison of different Malaise trap types
Recent reports on insect decline have highlighted the need for long‐term data on insect communities towards identifying their trends and drivers. With the launch of many new insect monitoring schemes to investigate insect communities over large spatial and temporal scales, Malaise traps have become one of the most important tools due to the broad spectrum of species collected and reduced capture bias through passive sampling of insects day and night. However, Malaise traps can vary in size, shape, and colour, and it is unknown how these differences affect biomass, species richness, and composition of trap catch, making it difficult to compare results between studies. We compared five Malaise trap types (three variations of the Townes and two variations of the Bartak Malaise trap) to determine their effects on biomass and species richness as identified by metabarcoding. Insect biomass varied by 20%–55%, not strictly following trap size but varying with trap type. Total species richness was 20%–38% higher in the three Townes trap models compared to the Bartak traps. Bartak traps captured lower richness of highly mobile taxa but increased richness of ground‐dwelling taxa. The white roofed Townes trap captured a higher richness of pollinators. We find that biomass, total richness, and taxa group specific richness are all sensitive to Malaise trap type. Trap type should be carefully considered and aligned to match monitoring and research questions. Additionally, our estimates of trap type effects can be used to adjust results to facilitate comparisons across studies.