$50K Fed Study Will View and Collect Poppy-Visiting Insects

October 23, 2013 - 3:58 PM

DWARF BEAR-CLAW POPPY

Dwarf bear-claw poppy (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden)

(CNSNews.com) – The Interior Department is planning to spend $50,000 over a five-year period to study the dwarf bear-claw poppy, a federally listed endangered plant that grows in Washington County, Utah.

The study will include "viewing and collecting insects visiting" the poppy flowers.

The dwarf bear-claw poppy is a perennial herb with white flowers that bloom from mid-April through May – a period of just over a month – “and are quite showy next to the red soils in which the plant grows,” according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

“The species' habitat is in an area of rapid population growth, and the low barren hills on which the dwarf bearclaw-poppy grows are impacted by development and off-road vehicle use,” the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said.

Scientists at Weber State University and Utah State University began studying the plant in 2012 and found “significant differences in fruits/flowers, seeds/fruit and weight of seeds among seven populations.” The Interior Department’s grant would allow that work to continue by funding studies at each of the seven populations.

“Pollinator studies would consist of viewing and collecting insects visiting flowers for specific periods of time. Insects would be identified, and counted. Specific flowers would be assayed for pollen grain numbered and tagged to estimated fruit set. A series of experimental hand pollinations would be undertaken,” the grant announcement said.

CNSNews.com contacted Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) to ask whether the study is an effective use of federal funds, but calls were not returned by press time.

According to the grant announcement, the public will benefit by helping the grant recipient “(likely an academic or non-profit research institution under the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit) fulfill their public service mission.”

“For example, it will provide opportunities for teaching, hands-on training in the field, data review and analysis, and working cooperatively with a public agency in natural resources managements,” the announcement said.

“It will further benefit the public by helping the agency meet strategic goals to protect and recover an endangered species. The public benefits because their public lands are protected and managed to insure public needs are met now and for future generations,” it added.

The deadline for applications was Sept. 15, 2013, and the project runs for five years.