Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Melibee Project and Citizen Science

Last Friday, June 8th I had the good fortune to be on hand at the Alaska Botanical Garden for a talk about invasive plants and native berries being given by Dr. Christa Mulder and Katie Spellman from University of Alaska Fairbanks Their project, the Melibee Project, examines what happens when a new plant species comes into an area. Is it more attractive to pollinators than anything else around? Does it improve pollination of the native plants that are already there? Or does it lure away pollinators, or lead to the delivery of the wrong kind of pollen?

Part of the Melibee Project is concerned with gathering phenology data from citizen scientists in Alaska and the northern part of North America to help better understand how invasive plants, pollinators, and how important food plants might interact in a changing climate.  Christa and Katie have developed a monitoring protocol and information sheets on the species.

Back to Friday night, the talk took place on the beautiful grounds of the Alaska Botanical Garden. There amidst the wind and mosquitos, a small but engaged crowd sat and was introduced to the Melibee Project. This group of plant lovers had inquiring minds and a lively discussion with many questions and anecdotal stories followed. 

After the presentation and discussion, Christa and Katie led us on a walk through the woods, where they pointed out the plants under discussion or others with similar characteristics. They also showed us how to set up a monitoring site and fill out the monitoring forms. At the end of a lovely if buggy walk, almost all present signed up to help with the citizen science monitoring of species.

If the idea of being a Citizen Scientist appeals to you, while you won't have the pleasure of meeting Christa and Katie personally, you can get all the information on the Melibee Project on their website. 

Citizen Scientists in action!

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