2018 Sigma Zeta National Convention Presentation Abstracts

 Caresse Hollendoner*  

* Recipients of Sigma Zeta Research Awards

Presentation abstracts will be published here shortly (usually within 24 hours) after they are submitted. (sp,fp,np designate preference for presentation day, however the host chapter makes the final decision on presentation times]

Abstract Submission Form


 Caresse Hollendoner

Chapter: Beta
McKendree University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: January 15, 2018 (sp)

The Effect of Rarity on Plant-Pollinator Communities

Pollinators are key factors in the maintenance of ecosystem stability, in addition to our food supply. Specifically, bees are responsible for approximately 35% of the global food production (Sapir et al., 2015). Within Illinois, native bee populations have declined by 50% due to multiple anthropogenic factors, especially habitat loss (Sapir et al., 2015). Prairies are an important habitat for bees, but less than 1% of these ecosystems remain (Holland et al., 2013). While prairie restorations provide bees with crucial habitat, they often have limited plant diversity via homogenous seed mixes (Harmon-Threatt and Hendrix, 2015), which may not provide sufficient sustenance for bees and consequently plant reproduction success. Diverse seed mixes with more representation of plants from different rarity levels might increase success of prairie restorations by providing more diverse pollen sources capable of supporting a greater range of bee species. To determine if rare, non-dominant, and dominant plant species have different levels of pollen limitation or differ in their ability to support a diverse range of bees, I sampled bee communities visiting plants of differing rarity and conducted a pollen limitation experiment on three species of plants in a prairie restoration in southern Illinois May-July 2017. The experiment indicated that dominant plant species supported a more diverse range of bee species, and pollen limitation decreased with increasing plant dominance. These findings reveal that seed mixes should include plant species that have greater bee species associations. Rare plant species also had bee visitations from species that did not visit dominant or non-dominant plant species. Thus, rare plant species are also vital for the stability and success of prairie restorations. Rare plant species may have coevolved with specific bee species; therefore, maintaining these coevolved relationships are critical for plant reproduction success and pollinator survival. Land management techniques should evaluate prairie restorations as individual entities to create customized seed mixes, thereby potentially increasing the probability of successful restorations. Based on my findings, future research should consist of an evaluation of rare plant species traits and interactions with pollinators, as well as how pollinator behavior might vary with disturbance (fire).