Researcher: Stefan Weber, M.Sc. Candidate
Supervisor: Dr. Christina Caruso, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph
Stefan is interested in the nature of spring wildflower communities and more specifically he has hypothesized that the assembly of these communities is controlled by pollinators (i.e. bees. flies, butterflies etc.). His main objective is to interpret the ecological and evolutionary origins of observed niche-trait patterns within the plant communities. He established 13 transects in the cliffs and alvars areas. Within each transect he measured a number of parameters including co-occurrence (how plant communities vary in space) and floral traits such as colour, size and the orientation of flowers. He also used an instrument that allowed him to look at flowers through an insect’s eyes. He is also looking at the genetic similarity between the flowers in his sampled communities. He hopes to be able to determine if spring wildflower communities are organized by their competition for pollinators which is may be influenced by traits of the flowers themselves. The information he gathers could be important for planning future restoration efforts of these wildflower communities.