It’s been far too long since I’ve posted a field update – so this post will be a recap of the entire 2018 field season! Sampling this year was successful, though it was a much shorter bloom season for almost all the flowers species, perhaps due to a combination of the heat, low rainfall, and lack of supplemental irrigation. I performed some summary statistics on the data, and there are some intriguing results from this year.
I’ll try to summarize the highlights below as succinctly as I can:
Because of this, I removed honey bees from the dataset and recreated the graphs.
I also take vacuum samples from each plot so that we can identify pollinators (and other insects) to species. I’m excited that my 2017 and 2018 bees have been identified by taxonomist Lincoln Best!
Across those two years, we collected 36 bee species (from 540 samples, which doesn’t include all the honey bee individuals). You might ask – is this many bees, or only a few? Simply put – we don’t know! Without knowing how many bee species are found at our site at NWREC, its hard to tell what this number means. However, I was excited to find that we collected two bumblebees that are on the IUCN Red List, Bombus fervidus and Bombus calignosus.
Below are a two pollinator interaction matrices to visualize these data, but I should note that these are very preliminary - they are not scaled by number of sampling events but are still a neat way to visualize interactions and richness data. (Darker squares represent higher abundance; a white square means no bees were collected off that flower).
Its obvious from looking at these data that the answer to the question "which plants attract the most pollinators?" isn't simple! Are we interested in certain suites of bee species - honey bees, or bumblebees? Are we interested in high overall abundance, or high species richness? Some species attract many individuals but few species, while some plants attract a higher species richness but fewer overall individual bees. Additionally, there are also seasonal changes in bee populations to consider, as well as seasonal changes in flower phenology and floral display.
Luckily we're going to have a 2019 field season, which will help account for this temporal variation and allow us to acquire data for species that didn't flower in one or both seasons.
We are soliciting Master Gardener feedback on the attractiveness of the native wildflowers that I am studying for pollinator plantings. Not only am I interested in finding plants that support ecosystem services; I also want to find plants that gardeners find attractive, and that they would want. This is where you come in. If you are willing, please let me know which ones you would like to see in your own garden, based on their looks, alone. Below is the link to the recruitment letter, with further information about participation. Thank you for your consideration!