Rahel Boss

Master in Biogesciences

Summary of my Master Thesis

Plant-pollinator interactions are of fundamental importance in terrestrial ecosystems. Without pollination, plant diversity on earth would be far smaller. It is therefore very important in light of plant conservation. Cypripedium calceolus, the here studied deceptive orchid, is pollinated mostly by bees (Hymenoptera) and sometimes by syrphids (Diptera).

This project has the aim to determine which species are the main pollinators of the Lady’s Slipper orchid in 16 populations, all located in Switzerland. Furthermore, we intend to find out whether there is a variation in the scent emitted by the orchids of the same population. Finally, we hope to determine how the habitat (surrounding plant community, connectivity, ...) influences the pollination success of the Lady's Slipper orchid. Several analyses will be realised. The pollinators are caught with yellow plate traps and by trapping them on the flower itself (direct observations). Furthermore, the scent emitted by the flower is analysed by "Gas chromatography – mass spectrometry". The nearby vegetation is surveyed, and 10 individuals of each Cypripedium population are analysed for their traits.

Finally, if time allows it, the reason for the rise of the discipline of conservation will be questioned with the case of Cypripedum calceolus as an example. This whole study is part of Olivia Rusconi’s PhD and is a continuation of her master thesis.


  • Conservation Biology
  • Deceptive Pollination
  • Cypripedium calceolus
  • GC-MS
  • Connectivity

Rahel Boss



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