The Global Malaise Trap Program (GMP) is an international collaboration between the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG) at the University of Guelph and an ever-growing number of international contributors. The program represents the first step toward the acquisition of detailed temporal and spatial information on terrestrial arthropod communities across the globe. It involves the large-scale trapping of arthropods using Malaise traps to obtain tissue material and subsequently determine species diversity using DNA barcoding.

Arthropods make up the majority of species in terrestrial habitats and it is critical to assess their responses to environmental changes. However, there is currently no systematic approach to rapidly quantify their baseline diversity or to track shifts in response to environmental disturbance. Past efforts to include arthropods in terrestrial assessments have faced two serious barriers: ineffective sampling due to habitat complexities, and unreliable tools for species identification. The latter barrier has now been circumvented by DNA barcoding, a method that utilizes sequence variation in a standardized gene fragment to rapidly sort and objectively differentiate species.

Malaise traps have proven to be the most effective trapping method for collecting diverse groups of arthropods with minimal collector effort. While they mainly target flying insects, comparisons with comprehensive sampling using other techniques have shown that Malaise traps reveal a significant proportion of the local arthropod fauna. Used in combination with DNA barcoding, this approach makes it possible to carry out large-scale sampling programs and enables a time- and cost-efficient approach for biodiversity assessments.

GMP map Jul 2015

GMP sample size

Hebert, P.D.N., A. Cywinska, S.L. Ball, and J.R. deWaard (2003). Biological identifications through DNA barcodes. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 270: 313-321.