Collaborative Research: Community Disassembly and Ecosystem Function: Pollination Services Across Agro-natural Landscapes

Project Details


Human domination of the earth has led to rapid changes in ecosystem

functioning, and has degraded many functions that are essential to human

survival, such as climate regulation, water purification and crop

pollination. Research on ecosystem function has traditionally been done at

small spatial scales using artificially-assembled communities. We therefore

lack a full understanding of how human activities influence function in

real landscapes where the changes are occurring. The proposed study will

investigate a critical ecological function, pollination, in the context of

human-induced land use change. The researchers will examine pollination

provided to native plant species growing in natural habitat fragments, and

to crop plants in agricultural areas. Both systems will be considered

across a gradient of land use intensity, i.e., with study sites surrounded

to varying extents by agriculture and urban/suburban development. The

following questions will be investigated: (1) How do pollinator communities

change (in terms of number of species, community composition, abundance and

biomass) with increasing land use intensity? (2) What are the functional

consequences of pollinator community change for native plant and crop

pollination? (3) What environmental factors most strongly influence

pollination function?

The work will benefit society at large, because as human populations

grow, it becomes increasingly important to maintain ecosystem services that

prevent shortages of water, energy and food. Crop pollination provided by

wild species, which depend on natural habitats, can provide economic

incentives for conserving these habitats. The investigators will transmit

the results of their study to land owners and land managers through

workshops, manuals, the media, and collaborative projects with conservation

and farming organizations. The broader impacts of this work will also

include promoting teaching, training and learning by providing

opportunities for independent and collaborative undergraduate projects,

focusing on women from Bryn Mawr College.

Effective start/end date9/1/0510/31/05


  • National Science Foundation: $134,842.00


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