A workgroup of scientists from Estonia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden has gathered under the project "Improving the Functional Connectivity of Grassland Networks for Plant-Pollinator Interaction" (FuncNet) and has started to improve understanding of the spatio-temporal effects of the area and structural connectivity of semi-natural grasslands - the hotspots of European biodiversity - on various aspects of plant-pollinator interactions in European rural landscapes. For this purpose, fieldwork will be carried out over three seasons in all five participating countries using the common methodology.
"In Estonia, the cowslips started to bloom earlier this year, which also led to the earlier start of insect surveys," Epp Valdaru, a junior researcher in pollination ecology, describes the start of this year's fieldwork season. "Regardless of this and some unexpected events - for example, some of the meadows selected as sample areas were unexpectedly mowed - we were able to collect much necessary information in one fieldwork season."
"What's great is that the scientists we're implementing the project with already helped us during the cowslips campaign. It can be said that FuncNet grew out of the cowslips initiative to answer the questions that emerged from the surprising results of the campaign," Tsipe Aavik explained the preliminary story of the project. "Almost all participating scientists have a background in plant ecology, but it is increasingly clear that the well-being of plants depends directly on the species that interact with them, including pollinators. That is why we are working together to make the first steps towards understanding how changes in landscapes affect pollinators and how plants respond to changes in pollinator patterns."
You can read about the FuncNet project here and the University of Tartu landscape biodiversity workgroup website. A photo gallery of summer fieldwork in Estonia, Sweden, Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic can be found below.
The authors of the photos are Iris Reinula, Marianne Kaldra, Tsipe Aavik, Jan Plue, Tomáš Dostálek and Sabrina Träger.
Associate Professor of Plant Ecology