Giovanetti, M., Giuliani, C., Boff, S., Fico, G. & Lupi, D. (2020) A botanic garden as a tool to combine public perception of nature and lifescience investigations on native/exotic plants interactions with local pollinators.PLOS One, 15(2), e0228965. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0228965 (IF2020 3,240; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
Life-sciences are pointing towards an alarming worldwide pollinator decline. This decline proceeds along with overall biodiversity losses, even in the context of urban landscapes and human welfare. At the same time, social-sciences are arguing an increased distance from nature, experienced by citizens. The strong connection between the public good and pollinator sustainability, even in urban areas, is well-documented. However, usually basic and applied life-sciences tend to underestimate public perception of nature, which is better tackled by the fields of social-sciences. Therefore, more efforts are needed to link scientific questions and public ‘perception’ of nature. We designed a transversal project where research questions directly confront public concerns: i.e., even while addressing scientific knowledge gaps, our questions directly arise from public concerns. Social studies highlighted that appreciation of (exotic) plants is related to the impact they may have on the surrounding natural environment: therefore, we investigated links of native and exotic flowers to local pollinators. Other studies highlighted that scientific results need to link to everyday individual experience: therefore, we investigated pollination modes of the renown Salvia, native and exotic, largely used in cuisine and gardening. The botanic garden was the promoter of scientific questions addressed by the public, and also collated the results in a travelling exhibition. The exhibition, together with a dedicated catalogue, were especially designed to enlighten the wide public on the relationships that plants, native and exotic alike, establish with the surrounding world.