The Grand Finale of Summer Milkweed Pollination Research

To bring the summer to its natural conclusion, myself and my fellow technician Angelica set out to process all of the data we collected.  With only three weeks to process and analyze a month an a half of data collection, we really had our work cut out for us.  My job was to continue watching the videos we had taken and start scanning the data sheets and inputting the information on a spread sheet.  Angelica was in charge of image analysis, looking at percent leaf damage for the herbivory blocks.

Both of us worked between eight and nine hours a day, five days a week, to digitize the mountain of data in front of us.  Even with these long hours, we were unable to finish everything.  However, we made a pretty impressive dent in the workload.  So I count that as a victory.

Because not all the data has been entered, we cannot draw any conclusions quite yet.  However, there were some observations that could be made simply by paying attention to the data.  I noticed that the most common pollinating visitors were the soldier beetles, the honeybees, and the bumble bee species.  Even though there were other visitors, very few of them actually performed any pollination.  This lines up with what has been noted in past research.  In addition, the milkweed umbels seemed to be a hotbed for insect activity, even though not all of the visitors were pollinating the plant.  There was a host of butterfly species, beetles, and wasps that all came to visit these flowers.  They seemed to be an important source of nectar for the organisms living in a field environment, in addition to a place were insects could find members of their own species (quite a few soldier beetles were found to be mating on the umbels).  As the year continues, hopefully the data will be properly analyzed so that scientific conclusions can be drawn from the data, as apposed to observations.  But, as the summer has ended, that is the end of the project for me.  Thank you for following me this summer!