January 2021 ASK Zoom Program: Bumble Bees, Blossoms and Boots on the Ground: Propelling Pollinator Conservation Through Citizen Science

January 27, 2021 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Zoom Presentation
Donna Keller

Please note: For our January members’ meeting, we are combining forces with Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones (KAWO) since the topic holds appeal for both ASK and KAWO. This requires a change from our usual fourth Monday of the month at 7:30 PM to the fourth Wednesday at 7 PM. The Zoom meeting will be recorded, so if you are unable to attend due to another commitment on Wednesday, January 27, at 7 PM, you will be able to view it at later date. Watch your email inbox for both the Zoom meeting invitation before January 27 and the link to view the recorded presentation after January 27. If you would like to be added to our email list, please be in touch at ask@kalamazooaudubon.org.

On local and global scales, pollinator populations are declining. How can we help reverse this trend? Dr. Ann Fraser and undergraduates Niko Nickson and Nicki Bailey from Kalamazoo College will present an overview of the research they have been doing to monitor and promote pollinator health in the Kalamazoo area. Their recent work is focused on bumble bees, those fat and fuzzy giants of the bee world, some of which are imperiled. Niko will describe the Southwest Michigan Bee Watch citizen science program he helped create and show how you can get involved to help document population trends and habitat preferences of our local bumble bees. One of the best ways to support bumble bees and other pollinators is to provide them with the food. That means planting a diverse and abundant supply of native wildflowers. But which flowers are most attractive? Nicki will describe how she is using citizen science, field surveys, and existing research to explore this question, and a habitat enhancement project she is involved with at the college’s Lillian Anderson Arboretum to promote pollinator conservation. Finally she will discuss measures you can take in your own backyard to help pollinators thrive in southwest Michigan.

Speaker bios
Ann Fraser is a professor of biology at Kalamazoo College. Her interest in pollinators grew out of an insect course she teaches, where her student collections opened her eyes to the great variety of bees found in the Kalamazoo area. From there she began her own research into local bees and, for the past ten years, has been engaging students in research projects aimed at cataloguing bee diversity and abundance in the local area, documenting plant-bee interactions, and conducting pollinator conservation outreach in the community.
Nikoli Nickson is a senior undergraduate at Kalamazoo College pursuing a major in biology with a focus in environmental health. He has worked with Dr. Fraser for the past two years to develop and launch a citizen science program focused on bumble bees in Southwest Michigan. Through this work he has learned a lot about the current pollinator crisis and how imperative it is to support pollinators locally. He has especially enjoyed working with the Southwest Michigan community and looks forward to continued engagement while pursuing an MD at Western Michigan University’s medical school beginning in July.
Nicki Bailey is a senior undergraduate at Kalamazoo College pursuing a major in biology with a focus in environmental studies. For the past two summers she has worked with Dr. Fraser to study wildflower diversity at the college’s Lillian Anderson Arboretum and document native bee-plant interactions in nature preserves across Southwest Michigan. She has also been creating educational signs for a pollinator habitat enhancement project underway at the Arboretum to help engage the Kalamazoo community with the important work of pollinator conservation. Nicki has really enjoyed working on various environmental science projects at Kalamazoo College and plans to continue studying ecology in graduate school.