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Letter to the Editor: The Great Sunflower Project

A project is calling on the public to help count bees in their backyards and local gardens throughout the year and specifically on Aug. 11.

I’m writing to let you know about a citizen science project that has helped gauge the health of pollinators nationwide that I believe your readers would be interested in. The project is calling on the public to help count bees in their backyards and local gardens throughout the year and specifically on Aug. 11.

San Francisco State University Associate Professor of Biology Gretchen LeBuhn has now released the initial results of her “Great Sunflower Project,” which uses data uploaded annually by 100,000 people across North America to determine the health of bees -- whose numbers worldwide are declining due to urbanization, climate change and other factors.

Now in its fifth year, the project has documented that urban areas have far smaller bee populations than less developed areas. LeBuhn suggests that urban features such as buildings and parks “fragment” or destroy bee habitats, making their job of pollinating plants much more difficult. Now LeBuhn plans to determine the “tipping point” at which urban features can fragment bee habitats enough to cause population decline.

While participants can make their observations and send in data any time, Aug. 11 has been named the day of the “The Great Bee Count,” which participants all over the country will observe. Your readers can view an interactive map of the nearly 12,000 gardens from which LeBuhn has collected data and zoom in to see what is happening in their neighborhood. 

There are nearly 2,000 gardens signed up to participate in the Bay Area, with a number of participants in San Carlos.

To join The Great Sunflower Project, visit the website at http://www.greatsunflower.org or follow the project on Twitter or Facebook.

-- PHILIP RILEY
Publicist/Staff Writer University Communications
San Francisco State University
Online: www.sfsu.edu/~news
Twitter.com/SFState_News
Facebook.com/sanfranciscostate

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