Climate Change and Pollinators in the Arctic
Live PolarConnect Event!
We had a great live event with Emily while in Greenland on Monday, 16 June 2014. You can see the video, listen to audio, and access a pdf of slides all in the PolarConnect Archives!
Researchers Blogged Too!
The team researchers are part of a great science program called IGERT. You can subscribe to blogs from researchers in the program here. Here is a blog by research team member Ruth Heindel.
What Are They Doing?
The research focuses on the interactions between plants and their pollinators, which are animals that aid in plant reproduction through transporting pollen. The aim is to understand how changes in temperature and precipitation may influence plant-pollinator interactions and plant reproduction. Temperature and water availability may alter the timing of flowering and floral traits that attract pollinators, such as nectar volume and flower size. In addition, temperature may alter what pollinator species visit flowers and how often they visit. The combination of these effects on plants and pollinators may influence plant reproduction, measured as the number of fruits and seeds a plant produces. The researchers hope to relate changes in the abiotic environment to floral attractive traits, pollinator visitation, and ultimately the reproductive success of plants. Three focal plant species, blueberry, harebell, and dwarf fireweed are used because they are common in the area and flower at different times of the season.
This work can have important pan-Arctic and global implications. The majority of flowering plants in nature and one third of our crop plants depend on pollinators to produce fruits and seeds. As temperatures rise in the Arctic, successful adaptation and range expansion of many plants, including plants migrating into the Arctic, will depend on pollinators. This study will help us determine which mechanisms may most strongly drive changes in plant-pollinator interactions and plant reproduction.
Where Are They?
The research team traveled to Kangerlussuaq on the west coast of Greenland. The climate in Kangerlussuaq is arctic, with temperatures ranging from -25 to 18 degrees Celsius throughout the year and averaging between 5 and 18 degrees Celsius during the summer. The team camped and worked outside of the town where most sites were reached on foot or by truck. The team occasionally spent a night at the local science station in order to charge instruments and take advantage of a hot shower.
Meet the Team
Emily Dodson graduated with a BS from Georgetown College in environmental science with a minor in sociology. After graduation she completed a MS in secondary education at Georgetown College to certify her to teach grades 5 to 12 integrated science and biology. Upon graduation she traveled to Kyparissia, Greece and worked for Archelon, a sea-turtle conservation society, assisting with field research studying loggerhead sea turtle nesting.
Emily is now in her second year of teaching integrated science at Crawford Middle School. Her teaching style involves lots of hands-on activities that are inquiry-based. In addition, Emily is the head coach at Crawford for "Girls on the Run." This is an international program where female students work on positive body images and train and run a 5k. Finally, Emily has recently been selected to work on the Science Curriculum Design and Development team for Fayette County Public Schools. Emily's hobbies include backpacking, photography, and reading.
Ms. Urbanowicz is a PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology graduate program at Dartmouth College. Her research explores the effects of climate change on plant-pollinator interactions. Pollinators and plants might have different responses to climate change, which can have important environmental and agricultural consequences. She is currently focusing on the Arctic, where environmental change due to climate change is rapid. This research focus translates to many happy hours in the field, collecting data about flowers and their visitors. More information about Ms. Urbanowicz's research group can be found here.