More Pollinators Are Found in Large Habitats Rich in Plant Species

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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.

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 pollinator diversity, highlighting the importance of accounting for indirect effects,” said author Shannon Grover. “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.”

The researchers concluded that we need extensive, well-connected, natural habitats to maintain a wide range of pollinators. Such habitats increase plant diversity, attracting a greater number of varied pollinators. Urban development is increasingly breaking apart these continuous, natural areas in North America. Reestablishing and protecting large, adjoining spaces remain important to the communal health of plants and pollinators.

Full text of the article “Indirect Effects of Landscape Spatial Structure and Plant Species Richness on Pollinator Diversity in Ozark Glades,” Castanea, Vol. 82, No. 1, 2017, is now available at http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.2179/16-108.

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About Castanea
Castanea is the journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society and publishes articles relating to all aspects of botany in the entire eastern United States and adjoining areas. The Southern Appalachians—the nonglaciated mountainous areas of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and southwestern New York—form an evolutionary center for native plant diversity for the northern temperate regions of the world. The society dates to 1935 and serves all persons interested in the botany of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The journal encourages submissions of scientific papers dealing with basic research in any field of plant biology, systematics, floristics, ecology, physiology, and biochemistry. For more information about the journal or society, please visit http://www.castaneajournal.org/ or http://www.sabs.appstate.edu.

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Brooke Winston
Allen Press
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