Two months have passed since the initial update on the Spanish case study in Pallars Sobirà, Catalonia. After weeks of preparatory work speaking with farmers, identifying suitable meadow plots, painting and putting together traps, and planning the fieldwork days, Mathias was finally geeted in Sort (the town in Pallars) by members of the CREDA team and a generous volunteer. During a late dinner on a Friday night, alarms were set for 04:30 Saturday morning, and Mathias scanned his maps to finalize the routes that would be taken by each team as they set up insect traps throughout 24 hay meadows.
Rising before the sun, the three teams set out to the dew-covered fields spread out across the cold, mountainous landscape of Pallars. In each field, six traps were setup, each consisting of three plates – neon yellow, blue, and white – meant to mimic flowers, but filled with soap water. A total of 144 traps were set (432 plates) within a few hours, and the team members met up to dry themselves out in the sun and try to stay awake through an early lunch.
As storms rolled around overhead, worries about the traps overflowing abound amongst the team. Before long, it was time to roll back out to the fields and collect the contents of the traps and see if the experiment had been successful. Luckily, the rain had not been enough to overflow the traps, nor to discourage the pollinators. With bottles full of multi-colored specimens, the team returned to Sort to reward themselves with a pizza dinner and some rest.
The next morning (but far less early), it was time to tackle the second part of the investigation, and the team set out to identify and quantify flower species in each of the fields. 10 different square meter plots were laid in each field, and the total number of each flowering species was recorded.
With sampling day having been a success, Mathias was back to his science den in Sort to begin to make sense of it all. This was no simple feat – each pollinator specimen had to be rinsed off, cleaned with alcohol, and preserved. Exemplary specimens were sent off for identification, and the contents of all 432 plates were counted.
This data will combined with the floral biodiversity analysis in order to identify trends linking specific pollinating species and flowers with the different hay meadow management techniques. Stay tuned for the results as they begin to roll in and become clear!