The reserves where we do our research are usually surrounded by various agricultural fields (hay, wheat, lupine, and canola). Because of this, we can ask interesting questions about fragmented landscapes and introduction of novel species interactions. Part of the research that has come out of the Mayfield lab explores these novel plant interactions and I hope to explore how exotic species could potentially affect direct and higher-order interactions.
One PhD student, Victoria Reynolds, is researching how pollinators are shared between flowering crops (e.g. canola), non-flowering crops (e.g. wheat), and the native wildflowers. She has done some awesome work collecting pollinators and pollen in Western Australia in many different reserves. She was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to visit the Brosi Lab at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, USA where she will use novel genetic techniques to explore these pollinator-plant interactions. How neat!
It is very rare that we have livestock in the fields next to the reserve, but this year we had some sheep that were grazing in the paddock behind the reserve. I really enjoy working within these small reserves to answer interesting research questions that these small reserves allow us to ask.