Monday, January 7, 2013

The P.A.U.S.E. Project

In late October I joined the SEABA butterfly experts when they visited Tohono Chul Park in Tucson to prepare a butterfly list for that park. On that occasion, Jo Falls, Director of Education and Visitor Services, introduced us to the P.A.U.S.E. Project.
 P.A.U.S.E. stands for Pollinators / Art / Urban Agriculture / Society / and the Environment
Sponsors are the American Alliance of Museums and the United States Department of State through the Museums connect: Building Global Communities Grant 2012- 2013
The Museums connect (formerly Museums and Community Collaborations Abroad) grant program strengthens connections and cultural understanding between people in the United States and abroad through collaborative and innovative projects facilitated by museums.

 In 2013, about 30 young people from Tucson (Tohono Chul, Uof A, Pima College), St. Louis (Zoo) and Nairobi (National Museums of Kenya) will join in the study of pollinators.
In this modern approach the three groups of students will be linked in teleconferences and cooperate in local classroom and field studies. Some  lucky students will later have the opportunity to visit each others countries.

On the Wings of Pollinators by Paul Mirocha
The project will touch on many different aspects and angles of the topic of pollinators.

Pollinators are of the greatest ecological and economical importance because 90% of flowering plants use animals as the vector for pollination and a great part of our food production is based on those biotically pollinated plants. The topic has recently gained urgency and was brought to greater public awareness because of several reasons: On one hand global threats to pollinators emerged and intensified like climate change, urbanization, industrialization of agriculture, and bee hive collapse, and on the other hand the interest increased in urban food systems with an emphasis on sustainable agricultural methods.

While the decline of pollinators is a worldwide problem, many underlying reasons and hopefully solutions may be based on the local ecological situation. So next Thursday, local experts will be contributing presentations to highlight the local pollinator fauna. I am honored to be one of the speakers.

Tucson is well centered in one of the ecologically most diverse and species-rich areas worldwide.
Hundreds of bee species inhabit the southwestern United States, and most of them are involved in pollination. Many show specializations that make them far more important to their target plants, and far more interesting to the biologist, than the ubiquitous imported generalist, the honey bee. Steve Buchmann will be talking about this group, probably our most numerous and effective pollinators.
Butterflies may not be the best pollinators, but everybody knows and appreciates them as flower visitors and nectar lovers. Fred Heath from SEABA will introduce the rich plethora of local species. 
I will fill in the important role of other insects, like wasps, ants, beetles, moths and flies.
Lynn Hassler will discuss the role of our local hummingbirds as pollinators.
Karen Krebbs will focus on local bat species that visit flowers to restore their energy reserves by drinking nectar.

I owe special thanks to Tucson artist Paul Mirocha who generously allowed me to use his beautiful image 'On the Wings of Pollinators' in my powerpoint presentation and here in my blog.
Stay tuned for the content of my talk in the next blog chapter.

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