The Pollinator Community

How do habitat management strategies impact the abundance, composition, and diversity of bees, flies, and other pollinators?

We want to find the most effective management strategy to support pollinator communities as a whole. Cleveland has over 20,000 vacant lots, which could be used as refuge habitat for endangered pollinators. Currently, most of this land is left vacant and mown once a month. We want to see if we can find something that will better help pollinators survive. By determining the best management strategies, we can recommend better ways to support pollinators in the community.

(photo: MaLisa collecting pollinators.)

(photo: MaLisa collecting pollinators.)

How was this research conducted?

Special handheld vacuums were used to collect pollinators from flowers on all of our sites to get flower-to-flower visitor information. Pollinators were collected from 5 treatments: Urban standard (control), Ohio meadow, Flowering lawn, Low diversity pocket prairie, and High diversity pocket prairie. Sampling for this project started in July, 2015 and was completed in August, 2016.

A model will be created to compare the overall pollinator community on different types of sites, using interaction networks to show all of the interactions within a community. Data will be analyzed and results will be written and presented.

What impact can this research have?

Ideally, we will be able to make recommendations to the City of Cleveland and other urban areas for the best habitat management strategy for communities of pollinators instead of focusing on a single species of pollinator. This might mean that we would recommend having more variation on vacant lot management to support a wider diversity of pollinators across the city.

To the average person, this would mean a more diversified lot system. So instead of vacant lots everywhere, some would be small pocket prairies, some would be small flowering lawns, and others would be areas left to be reclaimed by a natural succession of plants.

This project is lead by MaLisa SpringMaLisa studies Entomology at the Ohio State University and is from Zanesville, Ohio.

MaLisa, on the significance of this research:

“Insects are cool! I work a lot with macrophotography to get photos to show others just how awesome they are! Not many people realize the diversity that is around. Ohio has over 500 species of bees (which do not include wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, etc), all of which perform slightly different roles in the community.

Insects are under-appreciated for their positive role in our lives, more than just pollination. Insects are also important for pest population control and nutrient cycling in soils. I chose to work with beneficial insects because I would much rather support beneficial insects than focus on killing all of the bad bugs.”

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1253197.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.