Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Pollinator Monitoring - Citizen Science Project

Spring Beauty - Claytonia virginica

Two labs are co-operating on a project to learn more about the relationship between Spring Beauties, Claytonia virginica and Claytonia caroliniana, and their pollinators.

Biologists in the James Thompson lab at the University of Toronto and the Neal Williams lab at the University of California at Davis are hoping to learn how pollinator communities change depending on the year, the location, and the season.

The two Spring Beauty species are both native woodland wildflowers, characteristic of rich forests and moist wooded slopes in eastern North America. They are Spring ephemeral species, for they bloom for only a few weeks before the forest canopy leafs out.

Pollinators for Claytonia include a variety of bees and flies. Of special interest is the native bee,Andrena erigeniae, for it is a pollen specialist, a bee that forages only on Claytonia. A species like this is especially vulnerable, for its fate is tied to the success of a single host plan.

In addition to their own work, the biologists are calling upon an army of citizen scientist volunteers to supplement the study with observations made across a wide geographic range during a very short period in time.

You can learn more and even volunteer to help with the project by visiting the project website: Spring Beauty and the Bees.

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