Forest Park Forever: Habitat Open House for Insect Conservation

Bees and other insect pollinators are beset by the same environmental challenges as other species, including habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation; non-native species and diseases; pollution, including pesticides; and climate change. Studies predict that climate change will alter the close relationship between insect pollinators and the plants that depend upon them for reproduction. Flowering plants migrating north or to cooler, higher elevation habitat in response to warming temperatures or other changes may not move in sync with their pollinators. The composition of pollinator communities is expected to change.

The concern is that in thousands of cases, we don’t really know what environmental and genetic cues plants and pollinators use to manage this synchrony. According to ecologist David Inouye of the University of Maryland, some plant-pollinator pairs in a particular area likely do respond to the same environmental cues, while others do not. There is no guarantee that the thousands of plant-pollinator interactions that sustain the productivity of our crops and natural ecosystems won’t be disrupted by climate change.

In Citizen Science, people everywhere are using basic scientific protocols to report observations of natural events. Hundreds of thousands of participants are contributing millions of observations every year, allowing scientists to more robustly pursue answers to still-vexing questions. For example, networks of observers across Europe have shown that blooming, leafing and fruiting of plants are happening earlier and earlier.

Around the world, people in backyards, neighborhoods and parks have been observing and recording changes. Scientists now recognize the importance of these records. Careful observations made by interested individuals help to fill in details about how people, plants and animals respond to changing climate. Instead of working alone, some researchers now invite volunteers to join large-scale citizen science projects.

There are many ways for citizens to help insect-conservation efforts, beginning with awareness and leading to action. To this end, Forest Park Forever will host a family-friendly Habitat Open House for Insect Conservation on Friday, August 1, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center in Forest Park. Led by FPF’s Park Ecologist Peter VanLinn and Education Coordinator Jean Turney, participants will discover a variety of insect stations that acquaint them with the habitats of Forest Park, learn about local citizen-science projects, create their own insect hotels and learn about how they can contribute to helping solve these larger global problems.

About Forest Park Forever

Founded in 1986, Forest Park Forever is a private nonprofit that works in partnership with the City of St. louis to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s great urban public parks.

Along with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever raised $100 million for the Restoring the Glory campaign (1995 – 2003),  which dramatically restored many landmark destinations in Forest Park, including the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box. With many Forest Park Master Plan projects still to complete, the organization’s restoration work continues.

Today, Forest Park Forever maintains more than 500 acres of the Park, provides information and guides for the Park’s 13 million annual visitors, manages capital restoration projects and delivers educational opportunities to teachers, students and adults. While not part of the Zoo-Museum Tax District, Forest Park Forever draws generous and essential support from 8,000 members, 1,100 volunteers and many other leading community supporters and partners.

Special Thanks