Chief personnel and activities (2017-19)

Denise Ellsworth, Elizabeth Long, Mary Gardiner - Entomology

Pollinator Investigators - Mary Gardiner, Kayla PerryPollinators

35 percent of the global food supply is highly reliant on animals for pollination! Worldwide declines in bees have been documented, threatening pollination services. The goal of the Pollination Investigators program (u.osu.edu/pollinationinvestigators) is to measure and compare the pollination services that insects provide to gardens in urban, suburban and rural areas. We do this by engaging citizen scientists to compare fruit set, fruit weight and seed set in pepper plants grown in the presence and absence of insect pollination. In the initial year of this program, 64 people elected to participate but only 14.1 percent submitted any data at the end of the summer. Using a follow up survey, we found that plant survivorship rates and protocol complexity were two factors that must be addressed to increase citizen scientist retention throughout the measurement of pollination services. To address these issues, we launched a website, blog, and Facebook page to provide citizen scientists with multiple avenues to interact and ask questions. We also provided additional plant care informationand a step-by-step animated video explaining the protocol. 


Creating Pollinator Habitat - Denise Ellsworth, Elizabeth Long

Pollinators face many threats, including lack of forage, damaging pathogens, climate change and harm from pesticides. Two workshops were held in 2018 to help Ohioans make positive changes to enhance pollinator health. The first one, Pollinators on Ohio Farms, brought 65 attendees together to focus on farm pollinator biology, bee identification, mason bee management, protecting pollinators from conservation and pollinator conservation. The second workshop focused on Bumble Bees in Ohio with 68 attendees who learned to identify common bumble bee species, received training to conduct queen bee foraging and nesting surveys, and learned strategies to conserve bumble bees. Many participants in these winter workshops attended field sessions in spring and summer to practice bee identification skills. 

In addition to the workshops, 50 pollinator plots were developed or enhanced for demonstration or outreach activities. Each plot consisted of locally sourced native plants which provided pollen and nectar sources for the various pollinators. Twenty of these sites are actually part of The Ohio State University phenology gardens, monitored by citizen scientists for pollinator visitation at sites such as Chadwick Arboretum on Ohio State’s Columbus campus, the Licking County Extension office in Newark, and at the A.I. Root Company in Medina. Additional sites feature cooperative efforts with OARDC Muck Crops Station, Ohio Department of Agriculture Soil and Water Districts, Holden Arboretum and various park districts. Interpretive signage was also developed and placed at the plots to help communicate the importance of pollinators and their habitat.