Now Archived: 16 June 2016 Event with Anne Schoeffler You can access this event by visiting the PolarConnect Archives.

What Are They Doing?

Researcher Christine Urbanowicz supplements a flower by painting pollen onto the stigma. Photo by Emily Dodson.
Researcher Christine Urbanowicz supplements a flower by painting pollen onto the stigma. Photo by Emily Dodson.
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?

A view of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Photo by Emily Dodson.
A view of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Photo by Emily Dodson.
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.

Expedition Map

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Project Funded Title
The influence of climate change on plant-pollinator interactions and plant reproduction: using a natural climate gradient
Anne Schoeffler - Teacher
Seton Catholic School

Anne Farley Schoeffler has been teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth grade science near Cleveland, Ohio since 2003 and focuses on problem-solving and investigation skills. She holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Chicago and a much more recent Masters in Science Education from Montana State University. She has backpacked and canoed in the backcountry in Minnesota, Ontario, Montana, and Peru. She shares this passion for the outdoors with her students through outdoor education camp, outdoor classes, an on-campus ecosystem restoration project, and service learning (water quality testing and invasive species remediation). She is the facilitator for an extracurricular philanthropy education program and is also an 18-year Girl Scout volunteer. For fun she loves to hike, read, travel, and spend time with her family.

Christine Urbanowicz - Researcher
Dartmouth College

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.

Latest Journals

Traveling Home Flying with the Air National Guard involves loading checked bags and luggage the day before the flight. All cargo is loaded into big wooden crates that are strapped all over, so that nothing slips around. This is where cargo/baggage is loaded for the Air National Guard flight.…
Christine Urbanowicz preparing to hand-pollinate blueberry plants. As my expedition nears its end, and I pack to go home, I am reflecting on why Arctic research is so important. We can think about this question from the perspective of human lifestyle, ecosystems, and the interaction between…
A Visit to the Glacier We knocked off work early the other day because it was too windy to hand-pollinate flowers. Instead we went to 660, the end of the Kangerlussuaq Road. There we hiked through the newest moraines (the piles of sand, gravel, and rocks that the glacier has pushed up). Then…
So What Do You Do When It's Too Cold and Rainy to Trap Insects? You go for a hike, of course! The clouds were so low over the river this morning, that it almost looked like you could reach up and touch them! Clouds hanging low over the river and camp. So we finished our morning's work,…
Bee Behavior This project is named for pollinators, but we haven't talked about bees at all. How could that happen? Bees are the least common pollinators in Greenland, but they are also the most effective ones because they carry more pollen than flies or mosquitoes; they can carry thousands of…
Permafrost: What Is It and Where Do We Find It? Permafrost is soil that is frozen (below 0 degrees Celsius) for two years or more; much of the northern hemisphere permafrost has been frozen for tens of thousands of years. Almost 25% of the land mass of the northern hemisphere consists of…

Climate Change and Pollinators in the Arctic 2016 Resources

Seton Catholic School's middle school Garden Club applied for and received certification as a Schoolyard Habitat. The school qualified by having a water source (reclaimed pond), forage for animals, and a pollinator garden. Students use these spaces for curricular activities and have received grant funds to extend the gardens and build a nestbox trail for cavity-nesting birds.

Middle School and Up

I was privileged to participate in a PolarTREC expedition to Greenland in June of 2016. PolarTREC, and other teacher research experiences, put educators into active roles with respect to science and are thus extraordinary opportunities to serve as role models for our students.

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Permafrost puts extensive limitations on plant growth and building construction. Most students in the world are not exposed to this phenomenon and don’t have a clear concept of what it is or how it is at risk. This inquiry activity is designed to let them explore the impact of melting permafrost on a human structure.

Less than a week
Middle School and Up
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In this webquest, students use maps to relate global temperature change to changes in the range of insects and birds and projected changes in tree range.

About 1 period
Middle School and Up
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Hudson Life magazine describes Schoeffler and Urbanowicz's PolarTREC expedition to Greenland. It describes the research, the process of pollination, and the challenges of Arctic research.