More Pollinators Are Found in Large Habitats Rich in Plant Species

Castanea Volume 82 Issue 1 March 2017

Our results primarily emphasize the importance of conserving and restoring the large continuous habitat patches needed to support diverse plant communities, thereby sustaining diverse pollinator communities.

Castanea – Native pollinators help grow our crops, and they keep our environment stable. Unfortunately, pollinator populations are dropping across North America, and fewer well-connected habitats are thought to be the main cause. A recent study suggests that by ensuring a high variety of native plant species in an area, stronger pollinator communities can be maintained.

An article published in the current issue of the journal Castanea looks at plant and pollinator communities in the Missouri Ozarks. The researchers studied the relationship between habitat area, plant species, and pollinator variation in various grassland landscapes.

When pollinators forage among blooms, both the plants and the pollinators benefit. Therefore, pollinator numbers in an area can be affected, either directly or indirectly, by changes to the landscape. Researchers observed plants and flying invertebrate pollinators in 30 Ozark glades. In all, they saw 64 groups of pollinator species, including butterflies, bees, wasps, and hoverflies. Although some glades had up to 13 species, no pollinators were found in other glades.

The authors found no direct relationship between high pollinator diversity and larger, more-connected habitats. However, they did find that better-connected areas had greater plant diversity that in turn supported more variety among pollinators. “Without considering the influence of plant diversity in this system, habitat area and connectivity would have appeared to be unrelated to…

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