Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)
Pollinators; habitat restoration; grasslands; urban ecosystems; plant communities; ecology
As humans continue to degrade natural ecosystems via greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction, many species are being pushed to the brink of extinction. In hopes to offset this degradation, habitat restoration attempts to restore ecosystem function to an improved state resembling intact, remnant values. This is a difficult, but important, undertaking with factors to consider at multiple spatial and temporal scales. The restoration and conservation of pollinator communities has garnered heightened attention because of the valuable ecosystem services they provide. This dissertation investigates the local and landscape level factors of grassland restorations that influence plant-pollinator communities. I used a combination of approaches, including large dataset compilation, and field surveys of local plant and animal communities. This work tells a nuanced story of how plant-pollinator communities are influenced by humans, but also how we can offset the most detrimental effects. Specifically, grassland restorations have the potential to increase pollinator abundance and species richness values compared to degraded grasslands. Furthermore, the surrounding land usage and quality of these restorations play an important role in their functionality. Restorations with higher plant richness and a higher proportion of native plants were able to support more robust plant and pollinator communities. Additionally, restorations nested within urban areas experienced increased stress, indicating increased support may be warranted. This work highlights the importance of high-quality restorations for the preservation of our pollinator communities. If we are to protect some of the most important species in the world, we must effectively restore the ecosystems they rely on.
Sexton, Aaron, "Plant-pollinator communities responsive to local and landscape level factors in grassland restorations." (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 3866.