Georgia citizens help collect pollinator data across state

By for CAES News

Later this summer, Georgia residents will have the opportunity to help researchers find out what’s the buzz with insect pollinators in their state.

The Great Georgia Pollinator Census, hosted by University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, will be held this year on Aug. 20 and 21. During the census, Georgia citizens are asked to visit plants in their gardens or other spots frequented by insect pollinators and count how many pollinators they observe in a 15-minute window. Those who participate then submit their counts online via the census website.

The inaugural census was held in 2019, with great success. In 2020, census coordinators had to pivot due to the pandemic. Instead of focusing on schools and promoting census events across the state, “we concentrated on encouraging families to count at home together,” said Becky Griffin, community and school garden coordinator at UGA Extension, who spearheaded the census.

They also shared recipes online for foods that rely on insect pollination and even created a pollinator-themed Spotify playlist. In the end, 3,755 people representing 124 counties participated in the 2020 census, collecting close to 82,600 insect visit observations. Additionally, 525 new pollinator gardens have been created as part of the project.

Data collected for the pollinator census are currently being used by UGA researchers for economic valuation studies of pollination. Some are also used in classrooms for student projects.

The plan is to grow the census each year, continuing to educate Georgia citizens and adding more participants and pollinator habitat. When asked about this year’s census, Griffin is optimistic. “We have some new project partners, and schools are busy planning their counts,” she added. “I am excited about this year’s count!”

Angela Hsuing is a graduate research assistant in the integrative conservation doctoral program at UGA's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
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