Get to know your wild neighbours!
Two-thirds of our crop species worldwide depend on wild pollinators to some degree! Those pollinators need more than just crop plants to survive – they need wild plants too.
Staff at the Manitoba Museum have been quietly studying pollinators for over ten years. The Museum’s Curator of Botany, Dr. Diana Bizecki Robson notes that “we really don’t know much about how wild plants and pollinators interact with each other or whether their populations are declining. One of the interesting things I’ve discovered during my field work is that pollinators of crop plants like canola and sunflower also need to feed on prairie wildflowers to survive.”
Unfortunately, many of the Manitoba Museum’s plant and insect specimens are difficult to display in regular gallery exhibits and can only been seen during special behind-the-scenes tours or in temporary exhibits. But now thanks to a virtual exhibit you can learn more about these amazing creatures. The exhibit is called Prairie Pollination (www.prairiepollination.ca)
Beautiful photographs of endangered and common prairie plants, and their insect and bird pollinators, are shown in this exhibit. Watercolour illustrations of wild plants from the Museum’s famous Norman Criddle collection, and virtual tours of wild prairies with pollination scientists add depth and context to the specimens. “The great thing about the Prairie Pollination exhibit is that people can find out exactly which plants are attractive to the different kinds of pollinators. This information will be of great use to nature lovers, gardeners, farmers, students and beekeepers” says Dr. Bizecki Robson.
We wanted to include an app along with the website which will enable people to photograph and document the wild plants that they might encounter when they’re out hiking. The app, called PlantSpotting, is available for free at the AppStore and the Google Play Store. Further, the resources page of the website lists all of the national, provincial urban and private parks in the Prairie Provinces where people can go see wild prairies.
Teachers will be able to help their students learn more about pollination through the lesson plans in the Virtual Museum of Canada’s Teacher’s Learning Centre. Dr. Robson notes that “using the multimedia resources provided, students will be able to learn about the life cycles and habitats of plants and pollinators, and evaluate human impacts on prairie ecosystems and endangered species.”
The Manitoba Museum gratefully acknowledges our project sponsors:
The Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC), an initiative of the Department of Canadian Heritage, was established in partnership with over 1,300 Canadian Heritage Institutions. www.virtualmuseum.ca is a unique portal to the countless stories and treasures held in trust by Canada’s museums, and lies at the core of the Government of Canada’s strategy to nurture and promote Canada’s culture online.