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NINA – Norsk institutt for naturforskning

Year: 2019
Project manager: Jane Uhd Jepsen
Project code: 152018

Climate and climate change is affecting the strength and nature of biotic interaction in the Arctic. The phenologies of plant and herbivores are changing, and increased mismatches between flowering seasons and pollinating insects has been suggested as a contributing cause to the rapid decline in pollinator abundance and diversity observed both in the Arctic and elsewhere. This place an added urgency on understanding the functional role pollinators play in particular ecosystems, and the sensitivities, climatic and otherwise, of plant-pollinator interactions. Monitoring plant-pollinator interactions with a sufficiently high temporal resolution is challenging though, and new methodologies which allow us to cut cost and/or obtain more frequent or complete observations are much needed. Frame-by-frame is testing and implementing a newly proposed protocol based on high frequency time lapse photography. The protocol targets simultaneous measurements of temperature, plant phenology, flowering, seed/berry production, pollinator visitation rates and pollinator diversity. We test the protocol on two common insect-pollinated plants Dryas octopetala and Rubus chamaemorus. The images and insect samples obtained will contribute to building up an efficient analysis pipeline for automatic detection of insects and flowers based on machine learning and computer vision. The goal of the project team is to establish a network of arctic and alpine sites based on the same protocol in the next few years, all contribution images to the same analysis pipeline. The project will hence both advance our understanding of plant-pollinator interactions in the Arctic and contribute to further methodological advances and increased international collaboration.

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