How to Sample Nectar of Flowers at Height

Post provided by Daniela Scaccabarozzi, Tristan Campbell and Kenneth Dods.

Daniela Scaccabarozzi, Tristan Campbell and Kenneth Dods tell us about the logistical challenges of sampling flowers at height and their new ground-based method for overcoming these problems.

Operational maneuvers while using the practical ground-based tool for nectar collection, prior to placing the organza bag over the inflorescence. Picture credit: Tristan Campbell.

Sampling flower nectar from forest canopies is logistically challenging, as it requires physical access to the canopy at a height greater than can be achieved by hand. The most common solutions comprise the use of cherry pickers, cranes or tree climbers, however these techniques are generally expensive, complex to organise, and often involve additional safety risk assessment and specialised technicians.

Ground-based Tool for Tree Inflorescence Sampling

In an attempt to overcome these limitations, we conducted a study on nectar production of Eucalyptus trees (Myrtaceae) in southwest Australia, using a practical tool we conceived, consisting of an extendable pole with an adapted container at the end for collecting the tree inflorescence.

In our paper, ‘A simple and effective ground-based tool for sampling tree flowers at height for subsequent nectar extraction’ in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, we proposed a simple approach for sampling nectar of tree flowers, based on an easy to assemble tool, in order to avoid climbing and cumbersome and expensive equipment.  The tool successfully allows the user to conduct the following operational manoeuvres: i) bagging the inflorescence prior to the nectar collection using organiza bags to avoid nectar consumption by nectarivors; ii) bagging the inflorescence in plastic bags and cutting the bagged inflorescences.

Materials and equipment necessary to assemble the ground-based practical tool for nectar sampling from trees: (a): 2 L type plastic bottle cut in half (plastic cup); (b): a 16 mm vinyl joiner tube; (c): 3 mm diameter and 20 m length nylon cord; (d): an organza bag with drawstrings; (e): polyethylene plastic bag with drawstring; (f): telescopic lopper pole. Picture credit: Daniela Scaccabarozzi.

As part of our study, we have provided instructions for assembling the tool and have detailed the sequence for bagging and sampling tree flowers from trees, provided time-saving tips and have created an online tutorial video.

Summary

Overall, this approach allows efficient sampling of tree flowers for subsequent nectar extraction. The tool helps to overcome limitations related to the sampling of nectar from medium-height trees including costs, risks, and time.

More broadly, this practical tool is valuable for ecologists that conduct flora biology, reproductive and pollination studies on tree species, epiphytic plants, and vines.

To find out more about this method for sampling tree flowers at height, check out the accepted Methods in Ecology and Evolution article, A simple and effective ground-based tool for sampling tree flowers at height for subsequent nectar extraction.  

To watch the video provided by the authors, explaining how to use the tool behind their paper, visit our Methods in Ecology and Evolution YouTube channel here.

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