Poster Title

Pollinator Habitat Initiative Field and Drone Survey

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Environmental Science

2nd Student Major

Biological Sciences

Institution

Northern Kentucky University

KY House District #

4; 69

KY Senate District #

11; 23

Department

Biological Sciences; Environmental Science

Abstract

The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) population has been in decline throughout North America over the past two decades, primarily due to loss of milkweed habitat. The Greater Cincinnati Pollinator Habitat Initiative seeks to restore milkweed populations at sites across the region and develop a roadmap for successful milkweed restoration. Milkweed population sampling, done to evaluate restoration efforts, is highly resource intensive. Over the past four years, we developed and tested multiple milkweed population sampling methods at five different sites around Greater Cincinnati. In 2018-19 we traversed entire sets to determine population size. In 2020, we used drone technology to determine milkweed population size of a site and found no significant difference in population size and density when compared to 2018-19 field data. In the summer and fall of 2021, we used various field transect and quadrat methods to estimate population and compare results to the same methods used on drone photographs. In fall of 2021, we compared population density estimates from the drone transect/quadrat method to population density estimates from the ground transect/quadrat method performed in summer. Preliminary data analysis shows that drone sampling and ground sampling result in similar population density measurements. Further research is needed to determine best methods for drone sampling and whether drone sampling can be used as a replacement for field sampling in estimating milkweed population sizes. Results will help to determine best practices for milkweed sampling in restored sites, which may save resources and improve overall conservation of pollinator habitat.

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Pollinator Habitat Initiative Field and Drone Survey

The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) population has been in decline throughout North America over the past two decades, primarily due to loss of milkweed habitat. The Greater Cincinnati Pollinator Habitat Initiative seeks to restore milkweed populations at sites across the region and develop a roadmap for successful milkweed restoration. Milkweed population sampling, done to evaluate restoration efforts, is highly resource intensive. Over the past four years, we developed and tested multiple milkweed population sampling methods at five different sites around Greater Cincinnati. In 2018-19 we traversed entire sets to determine population size. In 2020, we used drone technology to determine milkweed population size of a site and found no significant difference in population size and density when compared to 2018-19 field data. In the summer and fall of 2021, we used various field transect and quadrat methods to estimate population and compare results to the same methods used on drone photographs. In fall of 2021, we compared population density estimates from the drone transect/quadrat method to population density estimates from the ground transect/quadrat method performed in summer. Preliminary data analysis shows that drone sampling and ground sampling result in similar population density measurements. Further research is needed to determine best methods for drone sampling and whether drone sampling can be used as a replacement for field sampling in estimating milkweed population sizes. Results will help to determine best practices for milkweed sampling in restored sites, which may save resources and improve overall conservation of pollinator habitat.