Project Bee Watch seeks ‘citizen scientists’
Following a successful pilot year, Project Bee Watch will expand its research area in partnership with Allegheny Land Trust, Latodami Nature Center and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.
The volunteer effort tries to fill a data gap in southwestern Pennsylvania on the status of pollinators to guide habitat creation and improvement efforts.
Aspiring citizen scientists can attend training sessions on April 26 at Latodami Nature Center and May 19 at the Frick Environmental Center.
Volunteers will learn about the importance of pollinators and how to use plant and insect identification tools. They will use those skills to conduct surveys at new research sites in Frick Park, Schenley Park and North Park, according to a release from Point Park University, which houses the Project Bee Watch research team.
Audubon Greenway Conservation Area, which the Allegheny Land Trust owns and manages, was the pilot site for volunteer surveys of a meadow for wildflowers and visiting pollinators like bees, moths and even beetles.
Matthew Opdyke, Point Park University professor of environmental science, analyzes the collected data and shares it with local conservation organizations, the release adds.
Information on plant preference and pollinator abundance can help guide habitat improvement efforts, assist homeowners in choosing plants to support pollinators and assess the status of pollinators in Allegheny County. Emilie Rzotkiewicz, vice president of land resources for Allegheny Land Trust, referenced collected data to aid in selecting plant species for a meadow improvement effort.
“We know the importance of pollinators in every aspect of life and they are critical to the sustainability of our greenspaces,” Rzotkiewicz wrote in support of a crowd-funding effort launched by Opdyke and Point Park graduate student Keri Rouse. “Understanding their threats and knowing their strengths will help us to better provide habitat to enable them to thrive.”
Securing additional funding for the project, previously funded through Point Park’s Social Impact Grant, will expand capacity, allowing Project Bee Watch to cover more meadows this year.
Training is free for ages 12 and up.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .