As a lab, we are generally interested in investigating pollination ecology questions that have implications for conservation and restoration. Some of the current projects are listed below, but many more are always on the horizon.
The role of soils in exposure and survival of bees
Considering most bees are ground-nesting, there is very little information on the exposure risk bees face from residual pesticide contamination in soils. Additionally, soil conditions and microbial diversity are critical to both the degradation of many contaminants and the establishment of plant diversity. By examining plant-soil-microbe interactions and the effects of neonicotinoid soil contamination on bees, we hope to better understand the full scope of threats experienced by bees and identify solutions to help reduce these threats.
Local and landscape features affect on pollinators
Glades are naturally fragmented communities characterized by high levels of endemism and high fragmentation. These communities offer a unique opportunity to investigate the relative importance of local and landscape features and how these contribute to the bee community diversity within patches. Additionally, we will investigate the effectiveness of pollinators in maintaining glade restorations.
Shifting flower phenology and the impact on pollination
Disturbance can significantly impact flowering times of plant species. However, little is known about how these shifts in phenology might impact the floral visitors, herbivory, and seed output of these plants. In partnership with Dr. Raelene Crandall, we are studying the impacts of fire on plant-insect interactions and plant demography. Fire is significantly used to restore habitats and better understanding the effects this has on plant pollinator relationships can be useful for informing restoration decisions.
Assessment of pollen production and breeding
Many of our projects assess not only the effects on pollinators but also on plant pollination. Using pollen limitation experiments, visitation rates, and seed set data, we are able to determine the relative importance of pollinators to a community and how this might affect persistence in a community.
Floral resource quality and flower preference of pollinators
As habitats change with either degradation or restoration, the ability of pollinators to obtain nutrients needed for survival is affected. By analyzing the amino acid and protein availability for pollen grains we can determine which plants provide adequate resources. This information can help us better understand the effects of invasive species as well as target plants that are nutrient rich for restoration.