High Elevation Pollination

Connecting diversity, phrenology and pollination services to determine the viability of plant and pollinator communities.

I’m Elijah, a third year PhD student in the Rafferty Lab at UC Riverside. In 2019, I spent the summer establishing a field project examining the relationship between flowering phenology, pollinator behavior, and plant reproductive success in the White Mountains. This year I was hoping to spend another summer living at Crooked Creek Station and collecting data for my research projects, but as we all know that didn’t pan out due to COVID-19. Despite the challenges, I was able to visit my field sites during six weekend trips this summer.

I am conducting a field project from the subalpine sage scrub to alpine fellfields in the White Mountains. My research examines how changes in plant community composition impact their reproductive success through the lens of pollination. I am manipulating plant biomass to determine how decreased plant density alters flowering phenology and pollinator behavior, and how those responses scale up to impact plant reproduction.

I was intimidated to drive 30 miles down the White Mountain Rd knowing there wasn’t the support system of WMRC staff to return to each night, but at the same time it was thrilling to be encompassed by the rugged beauty of the Whites. Despite the uncertainty of our lives, it was relieving to know that flowers were still blooming, pollinators were still buzzing, and Campito was still grazing up at 12,000 ft. Next year, I plan to complete my third and final field season in the White Mountains. Hopefully I can continue having thoughtful conversations and great meals with staff and visitors at the WMRC stations.

Status: Ongoing