Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators
Glenn Skiles (working in conjunction with Hannah Benzing)
Description and Overview of Project:
Native pollinator species have been in decline in most regions of the world and it has raised concerns over what the potential ecological impact may be. It is estimated that 75% of plant species humans rely on require propagation by pollinators. Although honey bees are the most commonly know pollinator, they are not the most effective and can in fact spread disease to native populations when shipped in to pollinate large agricultural areas. Alternative pollinators include a variety of other insects in the hymenoptera family such as carpenter bees, sweat bees, and bumble bees. Butterflies and moths are also effective pollinators, as are beetles and even some ants. Unlike honeybees, most native bees are docile and because they do not live in large hives will not sting to defend their nests. Bumble bees do live in colonies underground that if disturbed might be defended, but this is a rare occurrence.
For my project I would like to combine restoring the stream bank of Delaware Run with native plants species and with them creating habitat for native pollinators. Habitat loss is thought to be one of the top causes of population declines of native pollinators in North America. By carefully choosing plants which are both attractive to visitors of the campus and native to this part of Ohio, a useful habitat for native species can be created. Because most pollinators do not travel great distances for food, even a small area of land planted with a diversity of native plants could be enough to be beneficial to local populations.
The primary needs required by native pollinators are a sources of food, water, and shelter. The native plants will be selected as those most attractive to pollinators (which incidentally tend to be brightly colored and attractive to guests as well). They will be native and adapted to our climate, therefore low maintenance. Delaware Run will provide water to the pollinators. Pollinator nest boxes can easily be built out of 2X4s for and even sand boxes (which could be nicely decorated). Pollinators will also take advantage of the preexisting trees and shrubs found along the Run. Potential problems will include mowing and the use of pesticides which could of course be deadly to the insects.
I recently narrowed down the direction of my project from just planting native species to actively trying to attract native pollinators and so I have not yet identified which plants will be the best to choose. It will be important to choose plants of a variety of colors and to have something in bloom for as much of the year as possible.
1. I will need to contact the appropriate faculty with the expertise in which plants and pollinators would be the best to select for and why. It will be important that the plants are attractive and low maintenance. I will also need to figure out who is in charge of giving permission to plant and clearing everything with Buildings and Grounds. Getting student groups involved such as the Horticulture Club and Environment and Wildlife Club will also be beneficial as it may add some sustainability to the project.
2. Solidifying a plan as to how the area should be designed, what plants need to go were based on light and water needs, etc. Choosing the exact location(s) will also be important. It will be important to have a solid design down before submitting the project to any school or city officials for approval.
3. Finally, it will be important for the site to not only be beautiful, but also useful to academic departments or the greater Delaware community. Perhaps an event could be planned that would bring awareness to the site, its benefits, and how it can be replicated.
Ley, Elizabeth , Stephan Buchmann, Katherine Macguire, and Larry Stritch. “Eastern Broadleaf Forest Continental Province.” Selecting Plants for Pollinators. Pollinator Partnership and NAPPC, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2011..
Selecting plants for pollinators was an extremely useful PDF that divided up the country into diverse regions. It was a guide whose purpose was to give you the information necessary to choose which plants would be best suited for planting according to what you were looking to attract. It also gave information on a wide range of pollinators.
“Native Pollinators.” Fish and Wildlife Habitat Management Leaflet . Version 34. Wildlife Habitat Management Institute, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. <plants.usda.gov/pollinators/Native_Pollinators.pdf>.
This was another useful PDF that went more in-depth as to the habitat and shelter that should be created for each specific type of pollinator. It was aimed more at agricultural areas and as a guide to farmers looking to increase pollinators in their fields.
Barbara Wiehe – Greenhouse manager. Has interest in native plants and is knowledgable as to the best environment for them
Ramon Carreno – Professor of Zoology: etymology. A resource on the local pollinators that would be best to attract.