In the current lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of ecologists are stuck at home: universities and research institutes are closed and it’s not possible to get out and do field work. Staring out of the window into our garden the other day I had a bright idea and I sent out this email to my network of colleagues in the UK who work on pollinator ecology:
I hope you’re all keeping well and safe during this difficult time. Given that we’re all supposed to be socially isolating as much as possible I wondered if we could use the time to generate some interesting data and keep ourselves sane in the process. The idea I had was for as many UK & Irish pollination ecologists as possible to carry out standardised garden surveys of insect-flower visitor interactions over the coming weeks. Combined with information about location, size of garden, floral diversity, etc. etc., it could give us some useful information about early spring plant-visitor garden networks along latitudinal and longitudinal gradients.
For those with kids at home it might be a good way of getting them out into fresh air and giving them something to do.
The response has been phenomenal and a lot of colleagues have agreed to take part. We’ve worked out a protocol and we are starting to collect data. If anyone (in the UK or elsewhere in the world) with the requisite pollinator and plant identification skills and experience wants to get involved, please send me an email: jeff.ollerton [at] northampton.ac.uk
Of course others who are less experienced can still help out by taking part in the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme’s FIT (Flower-Insect Timed) counts: https://www.ceh.ac.uk/our-science/projects/pollinator-monitoring
However, it also struck me that there are plenty of other ecologists who could use their gardens, and networks of colleagues, to collect a large amount of useful data, in a standard way, across a wide geographical area, e.g. plant-herbivore interactions, bird behaviour, earthworm counts, etc. etc.
Let’s get away from our computers and into the fresh air and start generating results!