Plant Functional Community Dynamics and Pollinator Resource Provisions within Nebraska's Restore Prairies

Recently, there has been a decline in pollinators across the globe, creating concern about their diversity, the provision of their related ecosystem services for humans and the environment, and what declines might say about the resilience of the ecosystems in which they live. In the Central Platte River Basin of Nebraska, these concerns are in tandem with questions of how grasslands adapt under stress and disturbance, and how they may maintain resilient function in a changing climate and continuing habitat fragmentation. Diverse entities, including government agencies, businesses and non-profits have explored the support and facilitation of pollinator communities with various methods of grassland habitat restoration and management. However, there are still knowledge gaps regarding what aspects of restored habitat are most valuable to wild pollinators and when. Among other research opportunities, there is much we don’t know about the nutritional resources available for wild bees in current prairie restorations, and how they directly affect the native bees that use them.

Goals

This research will explore plant functional community dynamics (including temporal nectar and pollen provision) in restored prairies.

Current Status

Field studies will be complemented by a controlled study assessing the impact of prairie nutritional resources on a Nebraska native bumblebee species, Bombus impatiens. In a rapidly changing world and climate, this research will construct a quantitative framework from which to assess restored prairies for pollinator benefit and their contribution to crucial ecosystem services and ecological resilience in years to come.

Nebraska Prairie. Photo: Hannah Birge
Nebraska Prairie. Photo: Hannah Birge
Principal Investigator(s)
-David A. Wedin

Graduate Student(s)
-Katharine Hogan, Ph.D.


Project Duration
January 2018 - May 2022

Funding
-National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT)
-City of Lincoln
-Lincoln Parks and Recreation

Project Location
Statewide Nebraska
Cooperators