Have you ever wished you could learn science through comics? This is exactly what cartoonist Marco Merlin did when he created the Cientirinhas, in partnership with Dragões de Garagem. The project had such a great reception that they decided to go further. In collaboration with scientist Luciano Queiroz, they converted the results of a scientific paper into comics.

“We created the Cientirinhas in 2016 and it worked very well. People love the format, they share it, quote friends and post comments on social media”, said Luciano Queiroz. “From this, we considered whether it would be possible to communicate the results of a scientífic paper through the comics format”. Since the scientific content presented in an academic paper is too deep to be presented it in a short narrative, they decided to create a longer story, following a format popularized by the Zen Pencils comic series. “The combination of images, text to the scientific content facilitates the understanding of more abstract or technical concepts, often difficult to the lay public,” said Merlin.

The aim of the original study was to understand how the colonization of streams by aquatic insects occurs. “Aquatic insects are not well known in popular culture and many of them have no common names in Brazil. The best-known ones are the dragonflies, water bugs, beetles and mosquitoes, and the little known are the Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera, and Plecoptera (mayfly, caddisfly, and stoneflies)”, commented Bruno Spacek, the first author of the paper. “We decided to do our experiment in intermittent streams, they dry up at a certain time of year and fill back up in the rainy season. This allows us to see how an empty environment, with virtually no organism, will evolve over time in relation to the species that inhabit it” concludes Spacek.

The authors of the paper hope to increase the visibility of the results achieved in this study, showing the importance of aquatic insects for the conservation of aquatic environments. The comic titled “Cycles” was published in Portuguese and English on February 20 in the website of scientist Luciano Queiroz.

Publication of scientific comic “Cycles by Marco Merlin & Luciano Queiroz”
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Original paper: Bruno Spacek Godoy, Luciano Lopes Queiroz, Sara Lodi, Jhonathan Diego Nascimento de Jesus, Leandro Gonçalves Oliveira. Successional colonization of temporary streams: An experimental approach using aquatic insects. Acta Oecologica (Montrouge), v. 77, p. 43-49, 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.actao.2016.08.010