The buzz surrounding our declining pollinators keeps getting louder and louder. The recently developed UGA Public Service and Outreach program, Connect to Protect, joins the Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership (GAPP) in spreading the word about the loss of our native insect diversity and providing ways to get involved. Like GAPP, Connect to Protect focuses on the opportunity that our urban areas provide for constructing pollinator habitats. The idea is to create a connected network of beautifully designed and ecologically minded landscapes within our communities. Using native plants in our landscapes acknowledges the coevolutionary relationships that have developed among plants and their insect partners over thousands of years. As a result of these partnerships, many insects have high specificity to breed or feed only on particular native plant species or families. Increasing the diversity within our landscapes can create dramatic expressions of color and texture while providing resources for wildlife. The hope is to create corridors of native plant gardens through our urban environments.
Education is the other crucial piece of the pollinator conservation puzzle. What better way to ensure a future for our ecologically crucial insects than to teach children about the fantastic world of pollination biology? Connect to Protect organizes hands-on educational programs for elementary-aged children to learn in an informal environment while getting their hands dirty. Planting pollinator gardens at schools creates accountability with garden maintenance while providing an introduction into the various career paths that biological science offers. Installation of native gardens, coupled with education programs ensures that our communities are aware of the plight of pollinators and have ways to get involved that are both fun and ecologically beneficial.
This is a call to arms! Getting involved in conservation does not require a degree in biology, nor does it require large tracts of land. We can no longer rely solely on our dwindling wildlands to support insect and plant diversity. Small pockets of native plants have the power to transform our neighborhoods into ecological havens and change the way people think about our landscapes. By focusing on the inextricable relationship between plants and pollinators, the Connect to Protect program advocates for increasing both plant and insect diversity in our expanding urban areas.
Visit the State Botanical Garden in Athens, Georgia for the Connect to Protect Native Plant Sale. A variety of native wildflowers, grasses, and forbs will be for sale on October 6th, 7th, and 8th and October 13th, 14th, 15th.
Get involved, plant a garden, and spread the word!
Guest Blog written by: Lauren Muller, UGA College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. M.S. Candidate, Horticulture
The Atlanta Botanical Garden hosts Science Cafe, a series of informal science based talks that encourage the public to engage with speakers on important topics. This years series focuses on pollinators and their conservation, and highlights several important pollinator related projects and the researchers behind them.
Today we highlight the presentation given on July 10th 2016 by Dr. Karen Bell who is currently in a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University where she is developing methods for DNA metabarcoding of pollen. This research is being applied primarily to forensic palynology , but also to address questions in ecology and evolutionary biology.
Karen’s enthusiastic and informative talk was well received by the audience, and became a great interactive platform for conversation about palynology, forensics, DNA barcoding, and DNA metabarcoding. Her talk highlighted the abilities of DNA Barcoding and metabarcoding to easily and rapidly identify pollen grains, a task which fewer and fewer trained experts are able to achieve expediently. Bell also highlighted other important applications for the technology such as forensic paleontology, biosecurity, product verification, border security, and allergen monitoring.
Bell and her research associates are one of very few people in the world currently developing this technology for its use on pollen, so it was a unique opportunity for the Science Cafe audience to be able to listen to her speak on such novel research. Looking toward the future, Bell hopes that the DNA barcoding and DNA metabarcoding of pollen can continue to have real world regulatory applications such as forensic palyonolgy and border protection, but also be used to investigate and broaden our understanding of pollinator networks.
Some more about Dr. Karen Bell
Co-blogged by GAPP + Jataysia Daniels, Greening Youth Foundation & Atlanta Botanical Garden Conservation Intern!
Do you want to know who is who in your pollinator garden? Well now you can thanks to The North American Butterfly Association ( Georgia- Piedmont Chapter), who have teamed up with Dr. Jaret Daniels and Monarchs acrossGeorgia to create a Georgia butterfly brochure.
With funding from Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites and the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, This brochure is a step by step guide on how to properly identify butterflies.
Knowing which butterflies are in your local area will help you, help them, by becoming informed about the butterflies specific host plants, and life cycles. This step by step guide is broken up into three categories; brushfoots, whites/sulphurs/skippers, and swallowtails so that you can easily identify butterflies in your local pollinator gardens!
Download the brochure here and start identifying your garden’s visitors today!
Co-blogged by GAPP + Jataysia Daniels, Greening Youth Foundation & Atlanta Botanical Garden Conservation Intern!
The Disney documentary “Wings of Life” unveils the secret life of bats, butterflies, and bumblebees through the use of macrophotography. This nature documentary by filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg, will be screening on Saturday June 25th 2016 from 11:00am to 12:30pm at the Midtown Arts Cinema, in Midtown Atlanta.
Bring your popcorn and enjoy a great film about the power of pollinators.
Here is a trailer
to get you excited about the screening.
photo credit: Kylie Bucalo
Science Cafe is returning to the The Atlanta Botanical Garden this summer, and this years theme is Pollinators in The Garden! These informal talks will be held every second Sunday, May- October, and are an excellent way for researchers and scientists to interact and engage with public audiences. This year the schedule includes researchers and scientists from the University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, USDA and the Xerces society who will highlight the importance of pollinator conservation and pollinator gardens.
The series kicks off this Sunday May 8th at 2pm with Scott Hoffman Black, the Xerces Society’s Executive Director. Scott has a passion and commitment to pollinator conservation and is actively involved in endangered species conservation, campaigning for pollinator conservation, and educating land users on sustainable land management practices.
So come and enjoy these talks, and learn from the experts what all the buzz is about. Admission to the Garden is required, however the lectures are free. For more information, including the speaker schedule please visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden website here. See you there!
Come join GAPP and other dedicated conservation related groups for Endangered Species Day 2016 on Saturday, May 14th from 10am-2pm at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Representatives and partners of GAPP will be at the Garden educating the local community about pollinator conservation efforts in Georgia, and of course providing information on pollinator gardens!
This event draws groups from all over Georgia who participate in educational programs, outreach, and conservation, in order for the public to engage with some great people and conservation-centered organizations. Come face to face with a Bald eagle, or explore the world of carnivorous plants, the day is a great opportunity for family activity and fun! Tours with an Atlanta Botanical Garden Conservation staff member will be available at 10:30am, 11:30am, and 12:30pm!
See you there!
Did you know the city of Atlanta owns 350 parks and green spaces? All of these areas play a pivotal role in linking green space across metro Atlanta for pollinators. The upkeep of these areas is a mammoth task, and today GAPP is highlighting a conservation group who maintain some of Atlanta’s most underutilized urban parks and green spaces.
The Greening Youth Foundation (GYF) is an Atlanta based organization whose mission is to nurture environmental stewardship among diverse youth and young adults, and expose them to conservation careers. Through programs such as the Atlanta Youth Corps (AYC) , The Greening Youth Foundation is able to support community based projects in local Atlanta parks, green spaces, and farms.
Currently, along with park maintenance AYC crews are helping to build and maintain pollinator habitat! Partnering with the Atlanta Botanical Gardens the Greening Youth Foundation’s Atlanta Youth Corps members are learning about milkweed and other native pollinator plants, and participating in pollinator garden out-planting at local parks.
Whitney C. Jaye, a GYF team member, describes the foundations commitment to pollinator conservation here, and also talks about plans for a native GA milkweed production nursery at the foundations Conservation Learning Institute. Help GAPP spread the word about the Greening Youth Foundation, an important youth driven organization who emphasize urban habitat restoration, conservation and community service.
Dr. Jennifer Cruse Sanders, of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, teams up with Greening Youth Foundation’s Urban Youth Corps during a pollinator garden out planting in Vine City, Atlanta.
On June 20, 2014, President Obama released the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. The strategy helps reduce honey bee wintering loss, restore monarch butterfly populations, and enhance acres of land for pollinators.
As we know pollinators are extremely important to human and environmental health because they determine fertilization, fruit, and seed set for thousands of plants that are grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices and medicines. Unfortunately, pollinators have been undergoing a drastic decline due to pesticides, habitat change, diseases, and more.
In conjunction with the National Strategy, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has constructed a Proposal to Mitigate Acute Risk to Bees.
You can be part of this project by addressing your concerns for the proposal via public comment. Commenting is open until July 29, 2015. For more information visit http://www2.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/epa-actions-protect-pollinators.
Watch Sarah Bergmann creator of Pollinator Pathways, talk about designing “biodiversity back in” by creating linked pollinator habitats that form urban green space corridors.
Beginning with a single pollinator pathway project in Seattle, Bergmann has taken the model and created a visionary plan to involve strengthening and reconnecting fragmented green spaces in urban landscapes across the nation.
You can learn more about the original pollinator habitat project in Seattle, and also about her plans to adapt this model in other urban areas across the globe in the Ted Talk below.
Wanna hear more about this? Visit her website here: www.pollinatorpathway.com
Come join us for Endangered Species Day 2015 this Saturday, May 30th from 10am-2pm at the Atlanta Botanical Garden for your chance to learn about pollinator conservation efforts in Georgia and how you can help! GAPP will be joining Zoo Atlanta, Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, Fernbank Museum, Monarchs Across Georgia, and more conservation-centered organizations to bring you family-friendly education and fun.
We encourage you to attend a conservation tour through the gardens at 10:30, 11:30, or 12:30 where you will gain an idea of how pollinators and plants work together and an appreciation of the types of species that need to be protected. Conservation experts are bursting to answer your questions regarding pollinator threats, why it is crucial to protect pollinators and current conservation efforts in metro Atlanta.
This Saturday will include an excellent opportunity to see endangered animal species such as a bald eagle that makes an appearance every year with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
We hope you can make it!