Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date

2021

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology and Microbiology

First Advisor

Charles B. Fenster

Keywords

botanical garden, conservation, landscape ecology, network analysis, plant-pollinator interactions, pollination

Abstract

Community structure contributes to ecosystem persistence and stability. To understand the mechanisms underlying pollination and community stability of natural areas in a human influenced landscape, a better understanding of the interaction patterns between plants and pollinators in disturbed landscapes is needed. Furthermore, understanding the potential conservation value in green spaces such as botanical gardens could assist in preserving and bolstering plant-pollinator interactions. Our study takes place in the Northern Great Plains which still retains extensive tracts of remnant temperate grassland habitat within a matrix of varying land-uses. First, we used a network-based approach to quantify how temperate grassland attributes and landscape heterogeneity influence plantpollinator community structure in natural habitats. We also quantified pollinator diversity and floral diversity to assess the functional role of temperate grassland attributes and the surrounding landscape on the composition of the plant-pollinator communities in natural habitats. We then quantified pollinator and plant diversity, and network community structure in a restored native grassland patch within a local botanical garden in order to investigate how plant-pollinator community structure and diversity may differ between botanical gardens and natural habitats. For habitat and landscape effects, we found that the amount of local nectar sugar and increased proportions of certain land-uses contribute to pollinator diversity that in turn influences the structure of interactions between plants x and pollinators. With our comparisons, pollinator diversity within the restored native grassland patch was greater than 55% of total remnant temperate grassland transects throughout the entire flowering season, while plant diversity and network community metrics between the two environments remained similar throughout, except for connectance. Overall, our findings demonstrate the promising role restored native grassland patches in botanical gardens could play as reservoirs for local pollinator communities by supporting plant-pollinator interactions comparable to those found in native habitat remnants in the same region. Moreover, understanding the factors contributing to plant-pollinator network structure within natural areas can guide management decisions to support resilient plant-pollinator communities and conserve the stability of and pollinators. With our comparisons, pollinator diversity within the restored native grassland patch was greater than 55% of total remnant temperate grassland transects throughout the entire flowering season, while plant diversity and network community metrics between the two environments remained similar throughout, except for connectance. Overall, our findings demonstrate the promising role restored native grassland patches in botanical gardens could play as reservoirs for local pollinator communities by supporting plant-pollinator interactions comparable to those found in native habitat remnants in the same region. Moreover, understanding the factors contributing to plant-pollinator network structure within natural areas can guide management decisions to support resilient plant-pollinator communities and conserve the stability of pollination services.

Format

application/pdf

Number of Pages

149

Publisher

South Dakota State University

Rights

Copyright © 2021the Author

796392_supp_1acd145f-a4fd-44ba-9513-f109309e3d83.pdf (584 kB)
Supplementary tables and figures for chapters

Available for download on Monday, May 15, 2023

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