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Flight of the Fritillary

Project leader(s): 
Emma Rothero

The Floodplain Meadows Partnership (FMP), hosted by the Open University, has been collecting data on the rare Snakeshead fritillary plant at a National Nature Reserve (North Meadow, Cricklade, Wilts) since 1999, using volunteers. The main pollinator of the snakeshead fritillary is the bumblebee and the FMP became concerned that reported declines in bumblebee populations would have an impact on this plant. In 2012, funds were secured to expand the numbers of volunteers counting across two new sites and establish bumblebee surveys on the three sites.  The project sought to assess the degree of retention and engagement of volunteers throughout the process.

Over three years the project increased the numbers of volunteers more than three-fold through wide advertising. Annual workshops were run to enable volunteers to engage in the findings and the research process. Volunteer attendance at counts and workshops was maintained and volunteer engagement assessed through questionnaires and interviews. 

88% of volunteers who responded to the surveys thought they had improved their skills in natural history recording, and a new ecological finding has been demonstrated.

Further work is recommended to develop technology based solutions to capture plant-pollinator interactions for student and volunteer assessment.

Related resources

Rothero, E. (2014) Flight of the Fritillary. eSTEeM Final Report. (PDF)

Appendix 1 North Meadow interview transcripts. (PDF)

Appendix 2 Evening meeting of fritillary count volunteers Wilshire Jan 2013. (PDF)

Appendix 3 Flight of the Fritillary response to questionnaires. (PDF)

Appendix 4 Feedback figures from questionnnaires.  (PDF)

Rothero E., Dodd M., Dyson M., Tatarenko I., Gowing D. (2013) Flight of Fritilary: application of Citizen Science in ecology and conservation. P. 66-72, in Moder Problems of Ecology and Human Health. International Conference. Cherepovets State University. (PDF)

Tatarenko, I., Dodd, M., Rothero, E., Gowing, D. (2013) Citizen science in meadow studies: population dynamics in Fritillaria meleagris on North Meadow (Wiltshire, UK). Research and Conservation of Floodplain Meadows: Proceedings of International workshop, Kaluga, Russia, Moscow Pedagogical State University and the Floodplain Meadow Partnership. (PDF)

Fritillary leaflet March 2014. (PDF)

Rothero poster (PDF)

Scholarship Shorts - video highlighting the activities, findings and impact of Emma's eSTEeM project.

Video length: 5 mins 8 secs


Download transcript