Authors: Tarolyn Plumley, Sarah Anderson, Rachel Mallinger
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rachel Mallinger
College: Agricultural and Life Sciences
Insect pollinators provide a critical ecosystem service in both agricultural and natural landscapes. Pollinators interact mutualistically with plants to gather essential resources for their survival that in turn enables plant reproduction. Examining plant-pollinator interaction networks, which link plant-pollinator relationships, allows us to determine ecosystem health and resilience. Agricultural and urban expansion are primary drivers of both plant and pollinator decline and may reduce the robustness of plant-pollinator interaction networks. More generalized plant-pollinator interaction networks are more resilient to species loss than more specialized networks because there is a greater potential for new interactions to occur. To assess these networks, we conducted a two-month survey of the frequency of pollinator visitation to densely flowering areas at 21 sites consisting of agricultural, natural, and urban systems. We hypothesize that the networks in urban environments are more robust than those in agricultural or natural environments. This study broadens our understanding of how agricultural and urban expansion impact plant-pollinator interaction networks.