Re: [beemonitoring] Volunteer pollinator monitoring
- Alison,Sounds like an interesting project and I too would try to help this spring as I have some spring beauty in my nearby woods and may be able to visit some of those populations I studied for my masters research. I did want to throw in that several other Andrena species visit Claytonia in Indiana and Illinois at least, although A. erigeniae is often the most common, A. carlini can also be common, as well as a few halictids and even Osmia. In terms of flies Bombylius major is quite common and distinctive but tachinids such as Gonia and Epalpus signifer can also be common.Let me know if I can help in any way. I could probably get pictures of all of these fairly readily.Talk to you soon,Rob Jean
On Feb 15, 2011, at 1:11 PM, Alison Parker <alisonjparker@...> wrote:
I'm a graduate student studying Claytonia virginica (spring beauty) and its oligolectic pollinator, Andrena erigeniae. You might remember my post last year asking about good locations for fieldwork - thanks for all of the helpful responses!
I am very interested in how Claytonia's pollinator communities vary throughout its range, and implications for those variations on plant reproduction. In my fieldwork last year, I observed some very interesting differences between populations - some populations seem to have very heavy visitation by the oligolectic Andrena, while others seem to have minimal visitation by the Andrena and are much more heavily visited by bombyliid flies. If these differences can be attributed to geography or some sort of habitat characteristic, that would be a really interesting avenue for my research to take. However, I have very little time to explore geographical variations, since the flowering time of Claytonia is so short (~3 weeks in early spring).
In order to learn more about the pollinator communities that visit Claytonia, I am thinking of beginning a small-scale citizen science operation - advertising for volunteers to do some short observations (an hour or two at the most) of Claytonia plants throughout its range (essentially the eastern half of the US). Several aspects of the Claytonia system make this seem feasible - the visitors I am interested in are relatively easily distinguishable from one another (the main visitors are bombyliid flies and the specialist Andrena), Claytonia is easily found in a variety of different landscapes, and the spring is a lovely time to be observing pollinators. I think the data would be interesting from a diversity and monitoring perspective, as well as helpful for my own research. If the first year is successful, I would hope to continue for a number of years.
Therefore, I have the following questions/requests:
1) For those that have attempted similar projects, do you have advice for involving the public in monitoring or data collection projects? Is it reasonable to expect that a non-entomologist might be able to distinguish relatively reliably between a bombyliid fly and a bee? Do you have any advice for recruiting volunteers, training volunteers (presumably from a distance), or organizing data? Do you have any other ideas for obtaining data using volunteers (i.e., using photography or video, collections, etc)?
2) Do you all know of organizations that might be able to help me advertise for volunteers (for example, by forwarding on an email to people that might be interested)?
3) Do you all know of anyone (yourselves included!) that might be interested in spending an hour or two observing local pollinators in sunny spring weather?
Thanks very much for your help!
PhD student, Thomson lab
University of Toronto
25 Harbord Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3G5 Canada