The first CMG meeting of the new year will be on Thursday evening (Jan 6th) starting at 7:30pm, when we’ll be hearing from Abigail Lowe who has recently completed her PhD project at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Abi was studying pollinating insects, and concentrating on species other than the social bees (honeybees and bumblebees). There are about 250 species of solitary bee in the UK; these, hoverflies (and other flies), many species of solitary (and even social) wasps, lepidoptera, coleoptera and other groups of insects are all important pollinators for a wide range of flowering plants.
One of the major causes of pollinator decline is loss of flower-rich habitat that provides the nectar and pollen that insect pollinators need for food. For example, in the UK we have lost 97% of ancient wildflower meadows since the 1930s, which once provided a variety of flowering plants to feed our hungry pollinators.
Abi has used DNA barcoding techniques to study the pollen carried by pollinating insects. A DNA barcode is a short region of DNA used to identify species. Scientists all around the world are working together to DNA barcode all living things, allowing organisms to be identified where morphological identification is not possible. The Garden has contributed to this global effort by creating the Barcode UK database, which made Wales the first nation in the world to have a reference library of DNA barcodes for all its native flowering plants.
For Abigail’s research, insects have been collected monthly across the National Botanic Garden and Waun Las National Nature Reserve and the pollen removed for subsequent analysis. The DNA within the pollen is then extracted and the DNA barcode marker is amplified. This amplified DNA is sequenced and compared with the Barcode UK database to identify its origin.
This project aims to discover which plants pollinators use, as well as specific questions such as whether native or non-native plants are preferred, and is there any resource partitioning between species or within species? The answers to these questions can tell us how to manage land in order to increase pollinator populations and prevent further decline.
CMG members can log on for the meeting for free, if you’re not a member you are still welcome to attend and join in the discussion, but as with the village hall CMG meetings we ask you to pay a nominal sum (£2) for a ticket, which you can book here:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pollinator-research-at-national-botanic-garden-of-wales-tickets-199054686927
As well as free entry to meetings, CMG members can visit other members’ fields, attend visits to other sites organised by the group, and contribute to its running as we depend on subscription income to run this website, the membership database system, village hall hire and zoom meetings costs, and insurance for attendees at group events. You can join the Carmarthenshire Meadows Group here: