The Effect of Milkweed Plantation and Temporal Prairie Restoration Gradients on the Native Bee Community Composition and Pollination Service in Prairie Fork Conservation Area

Principal Investigators: Zack Miller and Dr. Candace Galen

Institution and/or Affiliation: University of Missouri, Division of Biological

Project Description:

Our specific aims are: (1) to measure the impacts of milkweed cultivation on the diversity (species richness and evenness) of native bees; (2) to measure bee pollination services to milkweed flowers using traditional survey methods and acoustic monitoring (flight buzzes); (3) to elucidate the effect of prairie restoration age on native bee diversity and milkweed pollination services; and (4) to test how floral resource supplementation due to milkweed plantings alters pollination services to co-flowering prairie plants.

 Outreach aims: We aim to enhance visitor appreciation of prairie ecology and native bee importance by developing a pollinator exhibit that includes (1) natural history information on native bees and pollination of their prairie host plants, (2) suggested activities for engaging K-12 students and visitors in plant-pollinator observation and research, (3) a display of bee specimens that represent the common species found at PFCA, and (4) an interactive digital display with photos, videos, and soundscapes of the prairie. We envision that the exhibit will complement pollinator education efforts by Kurzejeski and Vangilder1 and will be formative for students’ and visitors’ understanding of how the mutualism of bee pollination unfolds in a prairie ecosystem, how scientists study pollination, and how visitors can play a role as pollinator stewards