Now Archived: 16 June 2016 Event with Anne Schoeffler You can access this event by visiting the PolarConnect Archives.
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 will travel 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 camps and works outside of the town where most sites were reached on foot or by truck. The team occasionally spends a night at the local science station in order to charge instruments and take advantage of a hot shower.
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.