Melibee Project and Project BrownDown
What happens when a new plant species comes into an area, and it is more attractive to pollinators than anything else around? Does it improve pollination of the native plants that are already there? Or does it lure away pollinators, or lead to the delivery of the wrong kind of pollen? We are asking these types of questions following the arrival of a non-native plant, white sweetclover (Melilotus albus) in habitats in interior Alaska. Watch the video below to find out why we need your help.
We are particularly concerned about the impact on two of our favorite berry species: bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) and lowbush cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea, also known as lingonberry). These plants are prized by many, but particularly important components of subsistence lifestyles practiced across Alaska. Sweetclover has been expanding rapidly across the state, and is considered to be an invasive species. The native berry species and the invasive plant share pollinators such as native bumblebees, solitary bees, and syrphid flies. These plant species also share habitats, such as the relatively open habitat created following a fire.