Actions will focus on habitat management, safeguard of insect natural pollinators, awareness and dissemination.
The total duration of the project is 4 years. At the beginning of the project the habitat will be managed in order to establish the best environmental condition for the future persistence of the target plant population. At the same time the effective pollinators of the target plant will be identified and collected, in order to artificially rear and introduce them in the target area during the following three years. The maintenance of the introduced pollinators will be then assured by the growing of autochthonous nectariferous plant species, which will be planted in the target area. For all the duration of the project the fitness of the plant and the presence of its effective pollinators will be monitored; pollinator insects in the target area will be also monitored, to evaluate the impact of the intervention on the pollinating fauna.
A.1 Identify wood sites for intervention
Selection of two sub-areas for shrubs clearing (action C.1) in the deciduous wood where the target population of Dictamnus albus actually grows.
A.2 Sampling and identification of D.albus pollinators
The insect species that effectively pollinate the target plant D. albus in the area will be observed and sampled in the target population during first flowering season (April-May 2011). Surveys will be performed for six full days during flowering period (2 days beginning of anthesis, 2 days peak of anthesis, 2 days end of anthesis), following a standardise protocol.
Expected results: List of effective pollinator species obtained before second season.
B.1 Site owners
Contracts of compensation payments for landowners will be signed at the beginning of the project.
C.1 Wood management
This action is planned to set up wood openings and re-establish habitat mosaic, contrasting forest closure in the target population. Selective cutting of shrub species (Prunus spinosa, Ulmus minor, Rosa canina, Cornus sanguinea) and young copsewood (Quercus pubescens, Fraxinus ornus, Ostrya carpinifolia) will be realized in two sub-areas of 16 square meters each, within the deciduos wood of Quercus pubescens, where the target population of Dictamnus albus actually grows.
The intervention is planned at the beginning of the project, before the flowering season (March-April 2011, depending on weather conditions), following action A.1.
Expected results: two wood clearings of 16 square meters each opened, where suitable habitat for D. albus is re-established, with a benefit for future plant reproductive fitness and population renewal.
C.2 Providing nests for pollinators
The purpose of this action is to enhance the populations of the effective pollinators of D. albus, by providing them with specific nesting site. This action is planned for all the duration of the project. Nests will be placed around February-March every year and left until October. In case of successful nest colonisation, the individuals will be either left in the target area for a natural re-introduction, and collected and used for the reintroduction described in C.3. Artificial nests will be built by the beneficiaries. Periodical nest upkeep and assessment of nest colonisation will be performed. The enhancement of pollinator populations will in turn contrast the problem of pollen limitation suffered by D. albus.
Expected results: successful colonisation of the artificial nests and obtainment of an appropriate number of insects to populate the target area and/or to be used for the pollinator reintroduction hereafter described.
C.3 Pollinator reintroduction
In order to increase the populations of D. albus pollinators, identified by action A.2, insects (bumblebees and solitary bees) will be collected in the target area, grown in the laboratory and then reintroduced again in the target area according to their flying period, and, in any case, before the flowering period of D. albus (March-April) from the second to the fourth year of the project. Bumblebee colonies will be placed in appropriate sites, located around the population of D. albus. Adults or cocoon of solitary bees will be released from specific structures, used for the pollination of crops.
Expected results: the expected result is the successful rearing and reintroduction of at least 5 bumblebee nests and the content of 5 assembled nests for solitary bees.
C.4 Reinforcement population of other nectariferous species
During the first year (March-Sept 2011), seeds of other nectariferous species will be collected, planted and germinated (Sept 2011- March 2012) at the Botanic Garden of Bologna (University of Bologna) in order to obtain adult individuals available for following plantation.
Adult individuals (approx 20 individuals per species) will then be planted in abandoned pastures nearby the target population.
Expected results: Flowering populations of the selected plant species (25 individuals x species) will be available starting from the second year of the project, at the time when colonies and nests of pollinators will be introduced.
Dissemination plays an important role in the project, as well as awareness to local inhabitants. Scientific workshops and training sessions will be addressed to a specialized public of stakeholders and actors involved in nature conservation. A demonstrative set at Villa Ghigi municipal park will mainly serve for training sessions and dissemination to stakeholders. Presentations across Europe are planned in order to illustrate how this integrated approach could be used in similar situations. A technical manual in italian and english will be edited and available on-line; printed copies will be distributed to partecipants at workshops and presentations.
D.1 Dissemination of scientific results
D.2 Awareness campaign to local stakeholders
D.4 Demonstrative stand at Villa Ghigi Municipal Park
D.5 Dissemination to stakeholders at Villa Ghigi Municipal Park
D.6 Notice boards and leaflets
D.7 Layman’s report
Monitoring is a very relevant part of the project, due to its demonstrative character, because it permits to assess the output of concrete actions, and check for the need of eventual redirections.
E.1 Plant fitness monitoring
Starting from second year of the project, monitoring of flowering, fruit and seed production, seedling development, will be performed during every vegetative season (April to July 2012, 2013, 2014), in order to quantify the results of habitat management: an enhancement of plant fitness is expected.
E.2 Pollinator monitoring on the target plant
Starting from the second year, insect visitors will be monitored in the field and identified, and pollen from their bodies will be identified in the lab.
It is supposed that the pollination service of target population would increase.
E.3 Pollinator monitoring in the target area
The aim of this action is the evaluation of pollinating insect biodiversity in the target area before and after the intervention of pollinator enhancement (actions C.2 and C.3). The census will be performed every year, from March to September, and the collected specimens will be identified at species level, from September to March of the following year. Data on pollinator abundance and diversity will be processed to calculate a biodiversity index before and after the intervention. The sampling protocol will be based on the “transect method”, already used in a previous national survey.