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A perfectly miserable field day

I wrote a blog back in June about perfect field days.  Today should have been one of the worst field days of my life.  Hiking in the middle of an old gravel pit in 32°C heat (41°C humidex), with no clouds, virtually no wind, while sweating profusely is NOT a recipe for a perfect field day; more like a recipe for heat stroke!  My day was salvaged however by making several interesting scientific discoveries.  First of all I found a rare plant that I’d been looking for in that old gravel pit I was hiking in, namely American Bugseed.  This species had not been collected in Birds Hill since 1929 so finding a population of about 800 plants was a good find.

American Bugseed

American Bugseed

My second high point was observing two species of insect (a bee fly and a bumblebee) visiting some of the common plants (Rigid Goldenrod and Hairy Golden Aster) in the park.  The whole reason I was out at Birds Hill Park this week was because I needed some hard evidence (e.g. specimens and observations) to support my research hypothesis.  I hypothesized that the rare Western Silvery Aster plant shares pollinators with common plants that bloom just before Western Silvery Aster does; the observation that I made today supports this statement.  Essentially this means that the common plants in the park facilitate the persistence of Western Silvery Aster via their joint pollinators.  The information I collected will be extremely useful in the development of my plant-insect interaction matrix for Manitoba’s tall-grass prairie, which will aid in conservation and restoration plans for this ecosystem.

Rigid Goldenrod

Rigid Goldenrod

Although I was way too hot to be excited about my findings at the time (I was too busy looking forward to getting back into the air-conditioned car) they helped to salvage what should have been a completely miserable field day.

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Dr. Diana Robson

Curator of Botany

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Dr. Robson obtained a Master’s Degree in Plant Ecology and a Ph.D. in Soil Science at the University of Saskatchewan. She has been working at the Manitoba Museum since 2003, conducting research mainly on rare plant and pollination ecology.