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Thesis: EWU Only
Master of Science (MS) in Biology
Ecological restoration is often focused on re-establishing native plant communities, without considering the larger ecological community, specifically pollinators, despite their being critical to native forb reproduction. Further, ecological restoration has the potential to mitigate global pollinator declines by rebuilding native ecosystems, providing pollinators with floral resources and nesting habitat. This is especially true for prairie restoration, which struggles to establish diverse, abundant native forb communities. The USDA Conservation Reserve Program State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (CRP SAFE) Palouse Prairie Project provides funding to convert agricultural fields into native Palouse Prairie habitat for the benefit of wildlife. Due to financial and logistical constraints, most CRP SAFE sites use a low-diversity seed mix with a high grass:forb ratio. This often results in sites with low native plant diversity and few forbs, likely to the detriment of pollinators. One way to measure the effects of prairie restoration on pollinators is to measure plant-pollinator interaction networks. The goal of my project was to determine the effect of CRP SAFE Palouse Prairie reconstruction on plant pollinator communities using plant-pollinator interaction networks in addition to more commonly used measures, like plant and pollinator species richness and composition. In Chapter 1, I focused on the community level, and determined whether Palouse Prairie CRP sites are re-establishing forb communities, pollinator communities, and the interactions between these two communities using plant-pollinator networks. In Chapter 2, focused on the species level, I assessed whether Palouse Prairie restoration is re-establishing forb and pollinator species roles and contrasted the species filling functionally important roles in remnant and CRP SAFE sites. Overall, I found CRP SAFE sites have not yet re-established forb and pollinator community composition and diversity, or species filling functionally important roles to network structure. However, even though pollinator and forb communities were not the same, structural characteristics of plant-pollinator networks and the roles species played in networks were not found to be different between remnant and reconstructed sites.
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Hoskins, Emma, "Plant-pollinator interaction networks in remnant and reconstructed Palouse Prairie in Eastern WA, USA" (2022). EWU Masters Thesis Collection. 755.