Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Orchid volunteers, please

A fascinating new orchid project is asking for volunteers.

The Natural History Museum has launched Orchid Observers to investigate how climate change is affecting orchid flowering times.

Scientists have noted that the flowering time of the early spider orchid, Ophrys sphegodes, is clearly affected and they want to find out how changes in the environment are affecting other wild orchids. They are asking people to look out for flowering orchids, take photographs and upload them, with the date and location, to the project website.

Also, as part of Orchid Observers, which is in collaboration with the University of Oxford's Zooniverse, people can help digitise historical orchid collections by reading and recording label information from the more than 10,000 museum orchid specimens.

The plan is to combine these observations with historical records to span nearly two centuries to compare against climate records over the same period.

The results could inform future research on how climate change affects not just individual species, but whole ecosystems.

The man orchid (Orchis anthropophora) is found in southeast England and begins flowering in early May to late June.

By Pamela Kelt

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