Sarah Richman, 2015 Carson Scholar, Biosphere 2 Fellow
As a Ph.D. student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Arizona, Sarah Richman is interested in how changes in pollinator foraging behavior can negatively affect the reproduction of plant communities. By examining a community of flowering plants and bumble bees in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, she is determining how a foraging behavior called nectar robbing (removing nectar from flowers through a hole pierced through the floral tissue) limits the plantâ€™s ability to transfer pollen for reproduction. The system turns out to be very complex, with different bee species displaying different behavioral preferences in certain ecological contexts. Understanding the nuances of this pollination system will be vital for agricultural systems, which are currently experiencing changes to their pollinator communities as climate change redistributes species over space. Also, this study system provides ample education and outreach opportunities through hands-on research, and Sarah is currently working with high school and college students on ongoing pollination ecology projects.
Tags:Carson Scholar,Institute of the Environment,University of Arizona