Pollinators show no preference between Goldenrod Plants and Aster Plants regardless of differences in flower length. Introduction
In this experiment, we observed the pollination of various plants by various pollinators in the Binghamton University Nature Preserve. We collected data by observing various plants by the pond trail area of the nature preserve and attempted to explain why some plants were structurally more attractive to pollinators than other plants. While observing a variety of plants, it became clear that the Goldenrod Plant and the Aster plant were the most attractive. This conclusion was drawn because they attracted the most pollinators. In fact, data collected of the other plants was so scarce they were deemed insignificant. The new focus of the experiment became to determine whether the Goldenrod or Aster was more attractive to pollinators and attempt to explain why.
Previous works have classified both the Goldenrod plant and Aster plant as Composite Flowers, or plants that have “multiple flowers inserted on a flattened, broad receptacle,” (Koch 1930). This means that the flowers of both the Goldenrod and Aster are made up of similar, if not identical, internal structures. Thus, we attempted to attribute the differences in pollinator visitations between the two plants to differences in external structures. If a difference in pollinator preferences was observed, we would try to attribute that preference to differences in the external structure of the length of the flower. Previous works have determined the average flower length of Goldenrod plants to be ¾ of an inch (Gross &Werner 1983), and the average flower length of Aster plants to be 2 inches (Harder 1985). The analysis of the data collected in this experiment attempts to test our null hypothesis: Pollinators show no preference between Goldenrod plants and Aster plants, and our alternative or working hypothesis: Pollinators do show a preference between Goldenrod plants and Aster plants.
The experiment took place in the Pond Trail area of the Binghamton University Nature Preserve. Observations and data collection were taken over a course of three days, with the approximate time of observation occurring at 1pm and the approximate temperature being 60F for each of the three days. The duration of data collection per plant was 30 minutes.
In order to record pollinator data, we chose one individual plant of each species (Goldenrod, Aster, Queen Anne’s Lace, Chicory, Knapweed) and observed each plant for 30 minutes. We recorded how many pollinators and what species of pollinator (Honeybee, Bumble Bee, Butterfly, Fly, Wasp), pollinated the plant in the observed 30 minutes. A pollinator was considered pollinating a plant if the pollinator remained on the plant for at least two seconds. This observation and data collection procedure was repeated for each of the three days at the same time of day and temperature in the same Pond Trail area of the nature preserve.
At the end of the three days, we added up all the collected data to determine the total number of pollinators that pollinated all the observed plants in the Pond Trail area of the nature preserve. In order for a plant’s observed data to be considered “significant” enough to study its attractiveness to pollinators, the plant needed to have at least thirty points of data. Meaning, the plant needed to be visited by at least thirty pollinators over the course of the three days. If a plant did not have 30 points of data, it would not be studied for its attractiveness to pollinators in this experiment.
Data collection over the three days yielded the following results displayed above in the bar graph. The Goldenrod plant was pollinated by a total of 35 pollinators (10 wasps, 1 fly, 3 bumble bees, 2 Butterflies, 19 Honeybees). The Aster plant was pollinated by a pollinated by a total of 42 pollinators (10...