A "plan bee" for cities: Pollinator diversity and plant-pollinator interactions in urban green spaces.
ABSTRACT: Green infrastructure in cities is considered to serve as a refuge for insect pollinators, especially in the light of an ongoing global decline of insects in agricultural landscapes. The design and maintenance of urban green spaces as key components of green infrastructure play a crucial role in case of nesting opportunities and for foraging insects. However, only few research has explored the impact of urban green space design on flower visitor communities, plant-pollinator interaction and the provision of the ecosystem service of pollination in cities. We investigated the abundance and diversity of pollinator communities in different urban park types in designed, standardized vegetation units, linked the visitation rates to the structural composition of the park types and derived indices for implemented pollination performances. The study was performed in two different structural park elements, flower beds and insect-pollinating trees. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the interaction between plants and pollinators, we calculated a plant-pollinator network of the recorded community in the investigation area. Visitation rates at different park types clearly showed, that the urban community gardens in comparison to other urban park types had a significantly higher abundance of pollinator groups, comparable to results found on a rural reference site. Tilia trees contributed significantly to the ecosystem service of pollination in investigated green spaces with a high supply of nectar and pollen during their flowering period. Calculations of pollination performances showed that recreational parks had comparably low visitation rates of pollinators and a high potential to improve conditions for the ecosystem service of pollination. The results indicated the strong potential of cities to provide a habitat for different groups of pollinators. In order to access this refuge, it is necessary to rely on near-natural concepts in design and maintenance, to create a wide range of flower diversity and to use even small green patches. Based on the findings, we encourage an integrated management of urban free spaces to consider parks as key habitats for pollinators in anthropogenic dominated, urban environments.
Project description:Animal-mediated pollination is required for the reproduction of the majority of angiosperms, and pollinators are therefore essential for ecosystem functioning and the economy. Two major threats to insect pollinators are anthropogenic land-use change and the spread of pathogens, whose effects may interact to impact pollination. Here, we investigated the relative effects on the ecosystem service of pollination of (i) land-use change brought on by agriculture and urbanization as well as (ii) the prevalence of pollinator parasites, using experimental insect pollinator-dependent plant species in natural pollinator communities. We found that pollinator habitat (i.e. availability of nesting resources for ground-nesting bees and local flower richness) was strongly related to flower visitation rates at the local scale and indirectly influenced plant pollination success. At the landscape scale, pollination was positively related to urbanization, both directly and indirectly via elevated visitation rates. Bumblebees were the most abundant pollinator group visiting experimental flowers. Prevalence of trypanosomatids, such as the common bumblebee parasite Crithidia bombi, was higher in urban compared with agricultural areas, a relationship which was mediated through higher Bombus abundance. Yet, we did not find any top-down, negative effects of bumblebee parasitism on pollination. We conclude that urban areas can be places of high transmission of both pollen and pathogens.
Project description:Wildflower strips (WFS) are increasingly used to counteract the negative consequences of agricultural intensification. To date, it is poorly understood how WFS promote flower visitation and pollination services in nearby insect-pollinated crops. We therefore ask whether WFS enhance pollination service in adjacent strawberry crops, and how such an effect depends on the distance from WFS. Over 2 years, we examined the effects of experimentally sown WFS compared to grassy strips on pollination services in adjacent strawberry (Fragaria ananassa) crops across a total of 19 study sites. Moreover, we examined flower visitation, species richness and community composition of the most important insect pollinator taxa at different within-field locations varying in distance to WFS. We found increased pollination services at the edge of WFS compared to locally reduced pollination services at the center, which resulted in no significant difference in seed set between WFS and control fields. Total flower visits and species richness of pollinators were higher in WFS than in adjacent strawberry fields. Moreover, wild bee visitation was enhanced in adjacent strawberry crops near WFS compared to field centers, and intermediate at field edges near grassy strips. Our study demonstrates that diverse WFS can increase wild bee visitation and pollination services in the field edges of adjacent strawberry crops, but that overall visitation and pollination services do not increase. Moreover, our findings show that major pollinator taxa exhibit distinct responses, resulting in a shift of pollinator community composition as a function of distance to WFS with direct effects on crop pollination. Our results that WFS enhance rather than reduce crop pollination services near WFS should distract possible concerns by farmers that WFS may locally absorb rather than export crop pollinators. Considering the spatial restricted enhancement of wild bees and associated pollination services we suggest to establish WFS in the center of crop fields.
Project description:Urban green spaces such as gardens often consist of native and exotic plant species, which provide pollen and nectar for flower-visiting insects. Although some exotic plants are readily visited by pollinators, it is unknown if and at which time of the season exotic garden plants may supplement or substitute for flower resources provided by native plants. To investigate if seasonal changes in flower availability from native vs. exotic plants affect flower visits, diversity and particularly plant-pollinator interaction networks, we studied flower-visiting insects over a whole growing season in 20 urban residential gardens in Germany. Over the course of the season, visits to native plants decreased, the proportion of flower visits to exotics increased, and flower-visitor species richness decreased. Yet, the decline in flower-visitor richness over the season was slowed in gardens with a relatively higher proportion of flowering exotic plants. This compensation was more positively linked to the proportion of exotic plant species than to the proportion of exotic flower cover. Plant-pollinator interaction networks were moderately specialized. Interactions were more complex in high summer, but interaction diversity, linkage density, and specialisation were not influenced by the proportion of exotic species. Thus, later in the season when few native plants flowered, exotic garden plants partly substituted for native flower resources without apparent influence on plant-pollinator network structure. Late-flowering garden plants support pollinator diversity in cities. If appropriately managed, and risk of naturalisation is minimized, late-flowering exotic plants may provide floral resources to support native pollinators when native plants are scarce.
Project description:Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) production relies on insect-mediated pollination, which is provided by managed and wild pollinators. The goals of this study were to measure the visitation frequency, longevity and temporal activity patterns of pumpkin pollinators and to determine if local habitat management and landscape composition affected this pollination service. We used video surveillance to monitor bee acitivty within male and female pumpkin flowers in 2011 and 2012 across a pollination window of 0600-1200 h. We also quantified the amount of pollen deposited in female flowers across this time period. In 2011, A. mellifera made significantly more floral visits than other bees, and in 2012 Bombus spp. was the dominant pumpkin pollinator. We found variation in visitation among male and female pumpkin flowers, with A. mellifera visiting female flowers more often and spending longer per visit within them than male flowers in both 2011 and 2012. The squash bee P. pruinosa visited male flowers more frequently in 2012, but individuals spent equal time in both flower sexes. We did not find variation in the timing of flower visitation among species across the observed pollination window. In both 2011 and 2012 we found that the majority of pollen deposition occurred within the first two hours (0600-0800 h) of observation; there was no difference between the pollen deposited during this two-hour period and full pollination window (0600-1200 h). Local additions of sweet alyssum floral strips or a field buffer strip of native wildflowers did not have an effect on the foraging activity of bees or pollen deposition. However, semi-natural and urban habitats in the surrounding landscape were positively correlated with the frequency of flower visitation by wild pollinators and the amount of pollen deposited within female flowers.
Project description:Modeling pollination ecosystem services requires a spatially explicit, process-based approach because they depend on both the behavioral responses of pollinators to the amount and spatial arrangement of habitat and on the within- and between-season dynamics of pollinator populations in response to land use. We describe a novel pollinator model predicting flower visitation rates by wild central-place foragers (e.g., nesting bees) in spatially explicit landscapes. The model goes beyond existing approaches by: (1) integrating preferential use of more rewarding floral and nesting resources; (2) considering population growth over time; (3) allowing different dispersal distances for workers and reproductives; (4) providing visitation rates for use in crop pollination models. We use the model to estimate the effect of establishing grassy field margins offering nesting resources and a low quantity of flower resources, and/or late-flowering flower strips offering no nesting resources but abundant flowers, on bumble bee populations and visitation rates to flowers in landscapes that differ in amounts of linear seminatural habitats and early mass-flowering crops. Flower strips were three times more effective in increasing pollinator populations and visitation rates than field margins, and this effect increased over time. Late-blooming flower strips increased early-season visitation rates, but decreased visitation rates in other late-season flowers. Increases in population size over time in response to flower strips and amounts of linear seminatural habitats reduced this apparent competition for pollinators. Our spatially explicit, process-based model generates emergent patterns reflecting empirical observations, such that adding flower resources may have contrasting short- and long-term effects due to apparent competition for pollinators and pollinator population size increase. It allows exploring these effects and comparing effect sizes in ways not possible with other existing models. Future applications include species comparisons, analysis of the sensitivity of predictions to life-history traits, as well as large-scale management intervention and policy assessment.
Project description:Habitat destruction and fragmentation accelerate pollinator decline, consequently disrupting ecosystem processes such as pollination. To date, the impacts of multilevel spatial structure on pollination services have rarely been addressed. We focused on the effects of population spatial structure on the pollination services of Comarum palustre at three levels (i.e. within-population, between-populations and landscape). For three years, we investigated 14 Belgian populations, which differed in their within-population flower density, population surface, closure (i.e. proportion of the population edge that consisted of woody elements) and isolation (i.e. percentage of woody area cover within a 500 m radius from the population centre). We tested whether these spatial characteristics impact on pollinator abundance and visitation rate and thus, reproductive success of C. palustre. Insects were observed in 15 randomly-chosen plots in each population. We tested for pollen limitation with supplemental hand-cross pollination. Bumble bees and solitary bees were the major pollinators through all populations. Within populations, plots with high flower densities attracted high numbers of bumble bees and other insects. High bumble bee and solitary bee abundance was observed in populations presenting high proportions of woody edges and in populations within landscapes presenting high proportions of woody areas. Seed set resulting from open pollination varied with bumble bee and solitary bee visitation rate, leading to increased pollen limitation when pollinators were scarce. Since the reproductive success depended on the visitation rate of the main pollinators, which depended on multilevel spatial structure, wetland management plans should pay special attention to favour a mosaic of biotopes, including nesting sites and food resources for insects. This study particularly supports the relevance of a mix wetlands and woody habitats to bees.
Project description:Seemingly mutualistic relationships can be exploited, in some cases reducing fitness of the exploited species. In plants, the insufficient receipt of pollen limits reproduction. While infrequent pollination commonly underlies pollen limitation (PL), frequent interactions with low-efficiency, exploitative pollinators may also cause PL. In the widespread protandrous herb Campanula americana, visitation by three pollinators explained 63% of the variation in PL among populations spanning the range. Bumblebees and the medium-sized Megachile campanulae enhanced reproductive success, but small solitary bees exacerbated PL. To dissect mechanisms behind these relationships, we scored sex-specific floral visitation, and the contributions of each pollinator to plant fitness using single flower visits. Small bees and M. campanulae overvisited male-phase flowers, but bumblebees frequently visited female-phase flowers. Fewer bumblebee visits were required to saturate seed set compared to other bees. Scaling pollinator efficiency metrics to populations, small bees deplete large amounts of pollen due to highly male-biased flower visitation and infrequent pollen deposition. Thus, small bees reduce plant reproduction by limiting pollen available for transfer by efficient pollinators, and appear to exploit the plant-pollinator mutualism, acting as functional parasites to C. americana It is therefore unlikely that small bees will compensate for reproductive failure in C. americana when bumblebees are scarce.
Project description:Urbanisation is an important global driver of biodiversity change, negatively impacting some species groups whilst providing opportunities for others. Yet its impact on ecosystem services is poorly investigated. Here, using a replicated experimental design, we test how Central European cities impact flying insects and the ecosystem service of pollination. City sites have lower insect species richness, particularly of Diptera and Lepidoptera, than neighbouring rural sites. In contrast, Hymenoptera, especially bees, show higher species richness and flower visitation rates in cities, where our experimentally derived measure of pollination is correspondingly higher. As well as revealing facets of biodiversity (e.g. phylogenetic diversity) that correlate well with pollination, we also find that ecotones in insect-friendly green cover surrounding both urban and rural sites boost pollination. Appropriately managed cities could enhance the conservation of Hymenoptera and thereby act as hotspots for pollination services that bees provide to wild flowers and crops grown in urban settings.
Project description:Differential visitation of pollinators due to divergent floral traits can lead to reproductive isolation via assortative pollen flow, which may ultimately be a driving force in plant speciation, particularly in areas of overlap. We evaluate the effects of pollinator behavioral responses to variation of intraspecific floral color and nectar rewards, on reproductive isolation between two hybrid flower color morphs (fuchsia and blue) and their parental species Penstemon roseus and P. gentianoides with a mixed-pollination system. We show that pollinators (bumblebees and hummingbirds) exhibit different behavioral responses to fuchsia and blue morphs, which could result from differential attraction or deterrence. In addition to differences in color (spectral reflectance), we found that plants with fuchsia flowers produced more and larger flowers, produced more nectar and were more visited by pollinators than those with blue flowers. These differences influenced the foraging behavior and effectiveness as pollinators of both bumblebees and hummingbirds, which contributed to reproductive isolation between the two hybrid flower color morphs and parental species. This study demonstrates how differentiation of pollination traits promotes the formation of hybrid zones leading to pollinator shifts and reproductive isolation. While phenotypic traits of fuchsia and red flowers might encourage more efficient hummingbird pollination in a mixed-pollination system, the costs of bumblebee pollination on plant reproduction could be the drivers for the repeated shifts from bumblebee- to hummingbird-mediated pollination.
Project description:Pollinator abundance is declining worldwide and may lower the quantity and quality of pollination services to flowering plant populations. Loss of an important pollinator is often assumed to reduce the amount of pollen received by stigmas of a focal species (pollination success), yet this assumption has rarely been tested experimentally. The magnitude of the effect, if any, may depend on the relative efficiency of the remaining pollinators, and on whether the loss of one pollinator leads to changes in visitation patterns by other pollinators. To explore how a change in pollinator composition influences pollination of Asclepias verticillata, we excluded bumble bees from plots in large and small populations of this milkweed species. We then quantified pollinator visitation rates, pollen export and pollen receipt for control plots and for plots where bumble bees were experimentally excluded. We found that exclusion of bumble bees did not reduce pollen receipt by A. verticillata flowers. Visitation by Polistes wasps increased markedly following bumble bee exclusion, both in small populations (186 % increase) and in large populations (400 % increase). Because Polistes wasps were as efficient as bumble bees at pollen transfer, increased wasp visitation offset lost bumble bee pollination services. Thus, loss of a frequent pollinator will not necessarily lead to a decline in pollination success. When pollinator loss is followed by a shift in the composition and abundance of remaining pollinators, pollination success will depend on the net change in the quantity and quality of pollination services.