Pollinator Use of Recently Burned Prairie

To investigate pollinator use of recently burned prairie habitat in relation to unburned habitat.

Conduct surveys of flower-visiting insects, referred to as ‘pollinators’, in permanently established burn and control (no-burn) plots prior to and after a late summer burn treatment.

Late summer prairie fires often result in a flush of flowering resources the following spring, as evidenced in the greater abundance of the more common flowering plant species in the 2011 burned plots compared to the control plots at the two study sites. The greater abundance of floral resources was especially noteworthy during the month of May at Mima Mounds with the profusion of camas (Camassia quamash) and barestem teesdalia (Teesdalia nudicaulis), both popular with bees. Floral resource availability is known to be an important factor directly influencing bee population abundance (Roulston and Goodell 2011). Fire also frequently removes thatch and moss, thereby opening access to bare ground, an important nesting resource for most species of native bees. The combination of increased availability of food and access to nest sites may help to explain the higher abundance of solitary bees, cleptoparasitic bees, and May bumblebees, in the burned plot at Mima Mounds. The pollinator response to burned prairie was less evident at Scatter Creek North. This may have been due to the generally lower availability of floral resources known to be popular with pollinators, such as camas, at Scatter Creek North, compared to Mima Mounds.