The Month of June’s Work for Milkweed Pollination

The month of June has been nothing but frantic.  For the first three weeks of June, I was out in the field for the majority of the day.  While I was there, we had multiple protocols in action at the same time.  Most of the day was spent doing pollinator observations and video recordings.  For each pollinator observation, I started with a fresh, unopened umbel.  I bagged them to prevent premature pollination.  Once the umbels had opened, which usually took about two to three days, we could begin the observation.  I would record information about the milkweed itself (its height, location, and proximity to other milkweed) and the focal umbel (number of flowers, location on the plant, color of flowers).  I would then take off the bag, and distance myself about ten meters away from the plant and started the stopwatch.  I would wait 30 minutes, recording each pollinator’s arrival and departure time.  For the first five visitors to the umbel, I paused the watch and counted all the pollinia that had inserted and removed.  After the thirty minutes was up, I moved onto the next umbel.  The purpose of these pollinator observations is to quantify how efficient pollinators of milkweed are by using pollinia transfer efficiency (PTE), which is the ratio of pollinia inserted to pollinia removed.  Since I had data for the number of pollinia inserted and removed, I will be able to determine PTE for the different pollinators that we have observed.

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