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Are native and non-native pollinator friendly plants equally valuable for native wild bee communities?

Citation

Seitz, Nicola; vanEngelsdorp, Dennis; Leonhardt, Sara D. (2020), Are native and non-native pollinator friendly plants equally valuable for native wild bee communities?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.pzgmsbcj8

Abstract

Bees rely on floral pollen and nectar for food. Therefore, pollinator friendly plantings are often used to enrich habitats in bee conservation efforts. As part of these plantings, non-native plants may provide valuable floral resources, but their effects on native bee communities have not been assessed in direct comparison with native pollinator friendly plantings. In this study, we performed a common garden experiment by seeding mixes of 20 native and 20 non-native pollinator friendly plant species at separate neighboring plots at three sites in Maryland, USA, and recorded flower visitors for two years. A total of 3744 bees (120 species) were collected. Bee abundance and species richness was either similar across plant types (mid-season and for abundance also late season) or lower at native than at non-native plots (early season and for richness also late season). The overall bee community composition differed significantly between native and non-native plots, with 11 and 23 bee species found exclusively at one plot type or the other, respectively. Additionally, some species were more abundant at native plant plots, while others were more abundant at non-natives. Native plants hosted more specialized plant-bee visitation networks than non-native plants. Three species out of the five most abundant bee species were more specialized when foraging on native plants than on non-native plants. Overall, visitation networks were more specialized in the early season than in late seasons. Our findings suggest that non-native plants can benefit native pollinators, but may alter foraging patterns, bee community assemblage, and bee-plant network structures.

 

Methods

Bees sampled with pan traps and by hand netting at experimental plots with native and non-native pollinator friendly plants in Maryland from 2016-2017.

Funding

Explorers Club

Graduate School of Life Sciences, University of Würzburg

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst

Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst

Graduate School of Life Sciences, University of Würzburg