The Manitoba Museum – Webs of Western Silvery Aster
Dr. Diana Bizecki Robson, Curator of Botany, and Melissa Pearn, Curatorial Assistant, The Manitoba Museum.
Over the past several years, Dr. Diana Robson from the Manitoba Museum has been sitting on this little stool here in Bird’s Hill Provincial Park staring at the plants growing in the tall grass prairie. Today, I’m here to find out why. Dr. Robson, what have you been doing out here for the past few years?
Well, I’ve actually been documenting which insect species pollinate the different plants that grow here on the tall grass prairie portions of the park.
Have you been focusing on any species in particular?
Yes, I’ve been looking a lot at this particular plant right here. It’s Western Silvery Aster. It’s got the very pretty pink petals and silvery leaves and the reason I’ve been focusing on it is because it’s endangered here in Canada.
Do you know what its pollinators are?
I’ve documented at least 21 insect species that visit this plant and are its likely pollinators. Interesting thing is that those same insects are actually visiting a wide variety of plants in the park before this plant even flowers in late August.
What does all that mean?
Well, it means that you can’t conserve a species in isolation. You actually have to protect all of the plants and the insects that are connected to it.
Everything in the park is connected to each other in some way. It’s like a giant interaction web, kind of like a computer network.
That’s very interesting. Thank you Dr. Robson.