Urban Pollination Project
- Hello bee folks,
I'm writing in hopes of publicizing some pollinator-related citizen science research, the Urban Pollination Project (www.urbanpollinationproject.org). Having lurked here for a long time now (and benefiting greatly in my own research--thanks!), I think this project might interest a lot of people on this list. We hope to spread the word to a wide audience as we also try to secure more funding.
The research: The Urban Pollination Project quantifies a) the diversity and abundance of bumblebees, and b) the crop yield of cherry tomato plants (pollinated mostly by bumblebees), in urban community gardens. We also look at landscape features (pesticide use, paved vs. green space, etc) to see whether pollination and/or yield in a specific community garden is correlated with these factors.
The citizen science: We've recruited community garden (P-Patch) gardeners who grow our Sungold cherry tomato plants in three treatments: open to pollination, pollinators excluded, and supplemental pollination with a tuning fork. (Cherry tomatoes will produce some fruits through self-pollination, but yield rises with buzz pollinating visits from bumblebees.)
Our successes so far:
In our first year, we had:
--85 citizen scientist gardeners in 24 P-Patches
--elementary school teachers and kids that used the project to learn about the scientific method
--numerous members of the public that attended free trainings to learn to identify local bumblebee species
--a volunteer corps of undergrads who performed pollinator observations all summer
We're analyzing the data now.
All this with zero funding. We're two grad students doing this on the side (it's not in either of our dissertations!). We're now trying to expand and improve this project--better equipment, doubled participation, and more types of data collection.
We are trying out a new funding paradigm, and crowdfunding this project through a science crowdfunding site, Microryza. If you know anyone who is interested, please let them know, and visit our website, video, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. Also, we'd love to just hear from you if you have thoughts or ideas about pursuing this type of research.
Thanks very much.
University of Washington Biology