Small Restoration, Big Impacts: How Habitat Influences Native Pollinators in Intensive Agricultural Landscapes
This study examined the impact of small-scale restoration of tallgrass prairie on native bee community composition on farms in Southern Ontario, Canada. Three farms with various crops (corn (Zea), Saskatoon berries (Amelanchier alnifolia), squash, pumpkin, zucchini, melon (Curcurbitaceae), soybeans (Glycine), and green beans (Phaseolus)) were surveyed in the summer of 2013. Availability of nesting and foraging habitat for bees was estimated and a combination of pan-trapping and sweep netting was used to capture specimens on 40 plots per farm. Results were analysed using ordination-based techniques in R, and indicated that prairie provides a diverse floral resource on which a complex and abundant array of bees forage. Restored habitat accounted for 33% of the total richness and 72% of the total abundance of native bees. This demonstrates that even small-scale restoration (~10% of each farm) may have an impact on the ability of farms in southern Ontario to support native bees.