Can annual floral strips create effective pollinator habitat in Southern Ontario agricultural landscapes?

Radcliffe, Kirsten
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University of Guelph

Flower visitors represent a key aspect of biodiversity, providing vital ecosystem services to native flowering plants and commodity crops. Studies indicate a decline in the abundance and diversity of flower visitors worldwide. Recently, Ontario developed a Pollinator Health Action Plan with the mandate of restoring, enhancing, and protecting one-million acres of pollinator habitat. This thesis examines: 1) What is the status of flower visitors in Southern Ontario and what factors are affecting their populations? 2) Could an annual mix of flowering cover crop species attract a diverse range of pollinator species? 3) Can the use of multiple planting dates extend the flowering periods of the mixes? Results show that using multiple flowering species and planting dates creates a continuous foraging source for a number of different pollinator taxa. Clear preferences were found between pollinator species and flower species, indicating a diverse mix is needed to attract flower visitors from all groups.

Agronomy, Pollinator, Bee, Bee foraging, Cover crop