Integrating Native Pollinators into Wildlife Conservation Practices slide notes


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These slide notes accompany a slideshow of the same name prepared by Nancy Lee Adamson (Xerces Society), many other Xerces Society staff, & Carol Heiser (VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries), for Virginia Master Naturalists promoting meadow establishment for pollinator & upland game conservation, with input & support from Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries biologists & the USDA-NRCS East National Technology Support Center.

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Integrating Native Pollinators into Wildlife Conservation Practices slide notes

  1. 1. 1 Integrating Native Pollinators into Wildlife Conservation Practices Thank you for coming. This program was prepared by Nancy Adamson of the Xerces Society and Carol Heiser of the VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries to promote meadow establishment for pollinator & upland game conservation. The Xerces Society is a not-for-profit invertebrate conservation organization based in Portland, OR, but with field staff around the country.2 Presentation Outline Today, we’ll talk about the importance of pollinators & other insects, how nesting habits affect needs, quail habitat, protection from pesticides, native meadow establishment, and additional resources.3 The Importance of Pollinators and Other Insects While many of us are interested in providing bird and other wildlife, this program focuses on insects as the basis of food chains, and due to recent declines in pollinator populations, raising public awareness about the need to protect and support beneficial insect populations.4 Economic Value of Insects Value of ecological services provided by insects is estimated at $57 billion, yearly. These estimates do not include services from domesticated species (honey bees, wasps available commercially for biocontrol). Insects contribute $22 billion to recreation industry as food for wildlife, wild natural enemies protect more than $4.5 billion in crop production in the U.S., native pollinators contribute at least $3 billion in pollination, and clean up grazing lands, saving ranchers more than $380 million & help retain nutrients.5 Pollination and Human Nutrition Due to recent bee declines, there is a lot of awareness about the importance of pollination. About one in three mouthfuls of our food and drink depends directly on pollinators. These foods are generally the most nutritious and delicious parts of our diet, most of our fruits and vegetables.6 Insect Pollinators Are Ecological Keystones But, the importance of pollinators is even greater in non-agricultural systems. This 85% is an average across temperate and tropical regions. In tropical areas, more than 95% of plants depend on animal pollinators, mostly insects. Fewer in temperate regions, but still about 80%! Because bees are so well adapted for gathering pollen, they are especially important for whole ecosystems. Some bees are pollen speciliasts, feeding only on certain plant species or families. Some plants encourage visits from the best pollinators, in this case bottle gentian remains closed until a bb squeezes into the flower. If you go to collect gentian seed in fall, you may be surprised to discover a bb sleeping inside! (Gentianaandrewsii) A plant that is only pollinated by bumble bees. A plant where we’ve seen (anecdotally) declines in bumble bees correspond to declines of this plant. It flowers in early fall. May see male bumble bees sleeping inside the flowers at night.7 Bugs Drive the System Bugs as pollinators and bugs as food drive our ecosystems, providing the plants, fruits, and seeds we and a lot of other wildlife depend on. They are vital sources of protein for many species, our beloved songbirds, and larger wildlife, including bears and smaller “beneficial” critters like spiders.8 Multiple Benefits of Pollinator Habitat Fruits and seeds are a major part of the diet of many insects, about 25% of birds, and many mammals.9 Multiple Benefits of Pollinator Habitat Pollinators and other insects are food for wildlife, including 89% of birds.
  2. 2. Anecdote about birds of Michigan needing 1mil caterpillars a day.10 Multiple Benefits of Pollinator Habitat One of the huge additional benefits of pollinator conservation is that many of the same pollen and nectar sources that support native bees, also support many predatory and parasitoid insects. This syrphid fly adult sipping nectar produces larvae that are voracious aphid predators, for expample. This parasitoid wasp adult is laying an egg inside an aphid and its young will eat the aphid from the inside out…11 Main Groups of Polilnators There are a lot of insect pollinators, including butterflies, skippers (another type of butterfly), moths, flies (this is a bee mimic that is often photographed and labeled as a bee—can ask folks to say how can tell not a bee), beetles, and wasps.12 Bees: The Most Important Pollinators But bees are far and away our most important pollinators. They are the only ones that totally depend on pollen and nectar during every stage of their life. • Bees provide for their young: the only other group to do this are wasps. Providing for their young means that they have to visit a lot of flowers to get the food. • Bees actively collect and transport pollen: wasps also provide for young, but bring them meat (e.g. soft insects or carrion). Bees on the other hand collect only pollen and nectar. • Bees exhibit flower constancy: bees typically stay faithful to a single species of flower on a foraging trip, ensuring that pollen moves between flowers of the same species. • Bees regularly forage in area around nest: if you can support nest sites and habitat close to a farm, the bees will visit the area around that farm If our goal is to help biodiversity conservation, while also helping adjacent insect-pollinated crop production, we should focus on bees. This will serve as an umbrella for many other pollinator groups (e.g. butterflies), as well as beneficial predators and parasites of pests, and also benefit many other types of wildlife, especially groundnesting birds and small mammals.13 Honey Bees: Colony Collapse Disorder I won’t dwell on colony collapse disorder (there is still no smoking gun), but because of CCD, the public is really aware of the importance of protecting pollinators. They really want to know what they can do to help, so this is a prime time for you to share the info you learn here. You will have a lot of tools to share that many people are not aware of.14 Some Bumble Bees in Decline Besides declines in honey bees, many of our native bees are also in decline. Due to the domestication of one of our native bees, we think disease was inadvertently introduced. These bees escape from greenhouses and have likely spread disease. All of these bumble bees used to be common in their range. The two on the right were common in our region, the yellowbanded and rusty patched. Now they are rare. [Of particular importance are members of the subgenus Bombus. This is a closely related group of “sister species” that range across the country. Once they accounted for some of the most common bees in their range, now they are nearly impossible to find in many portions of their ranges. -B. pensylvanicusis also in decline (not one of the sister species), as well as a number of other unrelated species (especially many of the cuckoo bees)]15 Bumble Bee Citizen Monitoring Project Xerces Society has a citizen science monitoring program that has been really successful, just with photos sent in by individuals across the country. These little pocket guides are available on the website and include not only the rare species, but other common bumble bees, so they make
  3. 3. great field guides, in general. Citizen scientists have documented more than 12 new records of this rare bee—a huge number in the rare species monitoring world. Note: without citizen monitors, we wouldn’t have known that this species still occurs in: MN, MA, and PA The basic knowledge of where a rare species presently occurs is a critical first piece of information necessary to conserve that species16 Bumble Bee Citizen Monitoring Project Citizen monitors have contributed 7 confirmed records of the yellow banded bumble bee. Again, a monitoring effort that would be very tough for individual natural heritage scientists to achieve on their own. Xerces Society has a citizen science monitoring program that has been really successful, just with photos sent in by individuals across the country. These little pocket guides are available on the website and include not only the rare species, but other common bumble bees, so they make great field guides, in general. Note: without citizen monitors, we wouldn’t have known that this species still occurs in: MN, MA, and PA The basic knowledge of where a rare species presently occurs is a critical first piece of information necessary to conserve that species17 Pollination and Crop Security Even as bees decline, crop acreage requiring bee pollination grows. From the 1960s we’ve had a 3 fold increase in crop acres needing pollinators. This parallels world population growth more than doubling. So, the need for habitat to support native pollinators is becoming even more important.18 The Economic Value of Native Bees Native bees contribute much more than this very conservative estimate. We just don’t have economic data over the years on native bee contributions like we do for honey bees, because their services are basically free.19 Native Bee Diversity in Agriculture But, we do know they contribute tremendously, with a huge diversity of bees visiting crop flowers.20 Benefits of Native Bees in Crops Native bees are very efficient: active earlier & later in the day, collect both pollen & nectar (honey bee forages usually specialize, collecting only pollen or nectar on a given trip), and they buzz pollinate (important for heath and nightshade family, and something honey bees can’t do. Most of these native species are solitary, so they collect nectar and pollen every trip for their own nutrition and to provision their young.21 Native Bee Crop Specialists Squash bees are cucurbit pollen specialists. That means they depend on pollen from only cucurbits (squash, melon, cucumber, watermelon), though they may collect nectar from other sources. They, along with bumble bees, have usually finished pollinating squash (they start work before dawn) by the time honey bees and bees arrive in mid to late morning. The males sleep in flowers overnight since they do not have nests.22 Buzz Pollination by Native Bees Most people don’t think of tomatoes needing pollinators, but with native bees they produce significantly more fruit. Honey bees don’t visit these flowers because they don’t provide nectar, and the pollen is buried in deep pores inside anthers that need to be shaken at a particular frequency (buzz pollinated) to be released. Bumble bees and most other solitary native species will buzz (vibrate) these flowers. See the white pollen landing on the tiny belly of that sweat bee? You can see buzz pollination on video clips in YouTube (search “adamson and pollination” within
  4. 4. the YouTube site).23 Native Bee Diversity in North America There is a tremendous diversity of native bees, about 4000 in North America, and about 500 here in Virginia. Almost twenty kinds of bumble bees in VA.24 Lepidoptera Diversity in North America The diversity of butterflies and moths is even greater, with 700 spp of butterflies and 13,000 spp of moths.25 Best Way to Support Pollinators The best way we can support pollinators is by providing habitat, protecting nesting sites, and protecting them from pesticides. This habitat is also tremendously beneficial for birds and other wildlife. While in the past we generally promoted planting native warm season grasslands with a few forbs, for pollinators, the ratio of forbs increases. Forbs have always been considered important parts of natural meadows, but seeds can be more expensive and it’s harder to determine appropriate quantities. The next couple slides we’ll look at the nesting habits of native bees, to understand their habitat needs. Native bees already are playing an important role in crop production, and that role can be enhanced through the creation of additional farm habitat and the cautious use of pesticides. There is also unprecedented support for pollinator conservation among agencies like the NRCS that is now available to farmers and other land managers.26 3 Broad Groups (Different Nesting Habits) We think about bees based on their biology/nesting behavior because it’s important for habitat management. Our native bees can be divided into three broad categories: solitary ground- nesting, and solitary wood or tunnel-nesting bees, and our one group of native social bees, the bumble bees.27 Life Cycle of a Bumble Bee Colony Unlike honey bees which exist in perennial colonies, bumble bees form annual colonies formed in the spring by a solitary queen. This comparison is similar to that of a perennial plant vs. an annual one. In the life cycle diagram above, the yellow bee is the queen. After raising her initial brood, they take over the foraging and nest construction duties, and the queen stays inside the nest laying eggs. Late in the season the colony will raise new queens which leave the nest and hibernate in leaf litter of loose soil alone over the winter. The old queen and the old colony dies in the fall.28 Bumble Bees, Bombus spp. A single BB queen starts her colony in spring, having mated the previous fall and overwintered in safe place under ground or in a crevice. She searches for abandoned mice nests, and Jolie Dollar of Xerces says that adding mice urine to a manmade nest increases the likelihood the nest will be used by a BB rather than a snake, as my boss Eric Mader tells me is the more likely inhabitant. The best way to support BBs, besides providing nectar and pollen sources, is to leave unmown areas and conserve brush piles, eg good mouse habitat.29 Ground-Nesting Solitary Bees The vast majority of our native bee spp are ground-nesting. Their nest holes look very similar to groundnesting beetle holes. If it’s the season when they are active, you only have to wait briefly before a female returns with nectar and pollen. But many spp are active only a few weeks of the year.30 Lifecycle of Solitary Bees When we talk about “solitary” bees, this is what we mean, the majority of our native bee species life solitary life cycles, where each female constructs individual nest cells, such as this excavated
  5. 5. mining bee nest, provisions it with pollen and nectar, and lays a single egg in that cell. After hatching the developing bee larva consumes the food provision, then goes through several developmental stages before emerging as a new adult to repeat the cycle. After laying the egg, the female closes off the nest cell and there is no interaction between the mother bee and her offspring, nor is there any cooperation in building or protecting the nest. There is no caste system with a queen, workers, and drones. Each female is a single mother.31 Cavity or Tunnel Nesting Solitary Bees About 30% of our native bees nest as solitary individuals in wood tunnels, usually hollow stems, or the abandoned beetle borer holes found in dead trees, or stumps. While some can chew cavities with their jaws like carpenter bees, many depend on beetles for their young. So dead wood and boring insects, two things we tend to want to get rid of, are really important for these bees. Plants with pithy stems, like sumac, blackberry, elderberry, are also really important nesting sites.32 Tunnel Nesting Bees The life cycle of these solitary tunnel-nesting bees is similar to that of solitary ground-nesting bees, however the brood cells are typically constructed in a linear arrangement separated by a series of mud or leaf partitions. Many people have heard of mason bees and leafcutter bees, both are examples of tunnel-nesting solitary bees.33 Lepidoptera Food Needs Butterfly caterpillars have a narrow range of plants they can use as host plants, while adults can feed on a variety of plants for nectar.34 Lepidoptera Overwintering Strategies Each species has its own strategy to overwinter as an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or adult (migrant). Examples: caterpillars hibernate in rolled leaves on ground, in soil at base of host plant, under loose tree bark…35 Upland Bird Habitat Needs Warm season native bunch grasses and wildflowers provide food and shelter directly and by supporting diverse insects (great sources of protein). Protect during nesting season! Don’t mow or burn. If you do disturb, try not to disturb any more than 1/3 of the area at any given time.36- Virginia Quail Initiative (follow slide captions)5657 Diverse Habitat is Best Diverse habitat supports greater diversity of insects. Although greater diversity is generally good, some night blooming species such as primrose may attract pest moths more than beneficials.58 Pollen and Nectar Through the Growing Season Though the species composition may change through the season, there are bees and other insects needing forage throughout the growing season. When installing new habitat, you may want to inventory your existing resources and focus on supplement those areas (in space and time) with the least abundance or diversity of blooms.59 Bloom Time Succession For Farm Bill pollinator habitat, you must include at least 3 species for each season in order to receive financial assistance. Otherwise, supplement times with least blooms.60 Distance Matters Bees and birds use energy looking for resources to feed their young. The closer the resources, the more successful their nesting is likely to be. Floral Diversity Insect diversity increases with plant diversity. Though we are focusing on meadow habitat, remember shrubs and trees within the landscape also provide diversity, and may bloom early in
  6. 6. the season when fewer perennial wildflowers are available.62 Native Plants Support Greater Diversity Though bees and other wildlife do use non-native plants, studies have found that native bees will generally choose native above non-natives. Doug Tallamy’s work on caterpillars found huge differences in the use of natives vs non-natives, even within the same genus. While birds are known to spread many invasive shrubs, so obviously like the fruit, we know the longterm and ecosystemwide problems associated with invasive species. For other beneficial insects, we know very little about specific habitat interactions, but providing nectar sources has been found to greatly improve biological control of many pest species, including stink bugs.63 Shelter for Bumble Bees Bumble bees need unmown areas and bunch grasses, habitat that would be ideal for mice. This is also excellent for groundnesting birds and other small mammals.64 Shelter for Cavity-Nesting Bees Probably one of the main reasons snags are good for birds is that so many insects live in dead wood, providing food. Hopefully, some of the bees are too far inside to be reached…65 Shelter for Ground-Nesting Solitary Bees The most diverse genus of groundnesting bees is Andrena, mining or digger bees, most of which are active in early spring. Though they are solitary bees, only a few places provide the well drained soil they need for nesting, so many aggregate their nests. Johnson Elementary School in Charlottesville has a similar landscape in spring, with bees that children can pick up without any aggressive reactions since they are solitary, not defending a colony with stores of honey like honey bees. [Sabin Elementary School: Portland, Oregon]66 Protect Ground-Nesting Bees: Avoid DeepTilling In the east, groundnests may go a few feet deep, so surface tilling (of 6” or so) will leave much of the nest in tact, but avoiding tiling is best. Out west, nests may be much deeper, 6-10’ or more.67 Protection from Pesticides Benefits All Wildlife Though many insects and birds are mobile, direct contact and residual effects of pesticides can be lethal.68 Avoid Pesticide Poisoning Most farmers know how to avoid poisoning honey bees, so a hidden benefit of colonies on farms can be increased care in spraying.69 Organic-Approved ≠ Safe Some organic-approved pesticides should be completely avoided wherever pollinators are a concern. Others are relatively safe, as long as they do not directly contact pollinators. They may not be dangerous for birds or mammals, but are dangerous for most insects.70 Establishing New Habitat When you’re planting new habitat, you will be providing not only pollen and nectar sources, but shelter for a huge diversity of insects and other wildlife. These male sweat bees don’t have nests to hunker down in, so are taking shelter in the protection of wingstem.71 Establishing New Habitat: Keys to Success The 6 Critical Elements: 1.Remove ALL perennial weeds prior to planting 2.Do not disturb dormant weed seed 3.Make a clean seed bed/planting area 4. Use appropriate planting technology for the site 5. Plant perennial seed in the fall 6. Manage annual and biennial weeds for two years after planting
  7. 7. 72 Seeding: Remove ALL Perennial Weeds Conventional Farms: Mow site and follow with Glyphosate fallow for a full growing season Round-up ready soybeans (combo cover and herbicide) Organic Farms: Shallow cultivation followed with a smother crop (at least 1 year) Buckwheat Sudan grass Solarization (clear plastic): At least 1 year Horticultural vinegar (expensive) Flame weeding73 Solarization (A Full Year is Best!) • UV stabilized plastic • Mow closely pre-install • Install following rain or water just prior to install • Dig in edges • Stabilize as needed Care in keeping tear free and/or repairing quickly74 Create a Clean Seed Bed Seed Bed Preparation: • Burn or rake off debris, or very light disk or harrow to smooth surface (should be firm, not fluffy) Do not to bring more weed seeds to the surface!75 Appropriate Planting Technology Native Seed Drills: • Multiple seed sizes • Plant directly in stubble (no till) • Tye, Truax, Great Plains (common manufacturers) Brillion Drop Seeders: • Made for sowing turf and pasture grasses, also alfalfa and clover • Works with native seed (change seed box agitators) Requires smooth, cultivated seed bed (not like this photo!)76 Seeding: Appropriate Technology Hand Seeding/Broadcasters • Mix seed with sand for even distribution • Requires clean, exposed seed bed Seed on soil surface – Do not bury the seed77 Appropriate Planting Technology Transplants: • Supplemental irrigation • Animal guards • Mechanical transplanters • Tree planters • Vegetable transplanters78 Seeding: Post Planting Post Seeding:
  8. 8. • Roll with cultipacker, lawn roller • Mow perennial seeded areas during the first year (before annual weeds produce seed)79 Establishing New Habitat: Post-Planting Post Seeding: Mow perennial seeded areas first and second year, before annual and biennial weeds produce seed • Mow when between 10–12” to 6–8” (as often as needed) to let light reach new seedlings w/o smothering80 • The Finished Product!81 Managing Established Pollinator Habitat Post-planting Weed Control: • Mowing and spot-weeding Maintaining Early Successional Habitat: • Rotational mowing, burning, grazing, brush cutting (no more than 1/3 per year) Other: • Mulching shrubs, deer fencing, vole cages82 Long-Term Habitat Management: Limit Disturbance Mowing, grazing, burning, disking are best at infrequent intervals • Disturbance to no more than 1/3 of habitat area each year • Time management for when most effective against target, or during dormant season Early successional habitat is ideal; too much disturbance favors grasses over forbs83 Manage warm season grasses with prescribed burning84 Benefits of Prescribed Fire • Reduces THATCH between the grass clumps • Increases nutritional value of vegetation • Promotes the growth of beneficial forbs • Controls woody competition85 Forb + Grass vs Grass Only Plantings • One other thing to keep in mind when planting for pollinators is that most folks who have been working in wildlife habitat conservation have been planting grasslands for birds and other wildlife. They have standard protocols for grasses, with set lbs per acre, and tried and true methods for success, relatively even costs. But with plantings that are mostly forbs (herbaceous perennial wildflowers), you need to start thinking in terms of seeds per square foot.86 Forb vs Grass Plantings That’s because the number of seeds/lb is so variable with forbs, along with the prices. • Also, grassland plantings use pre-emergent herbicides developed to kill broadleaf weeds, and so they also are lethal for most forb seeds.87 Seed Calculator Example To keep costs lower and ensure enough seeds for successful planting, use a seed calculator. You can contact the NRCS, the Xerces Society, or seed suppliers for help with coming up with a good mix.88 Seeding Rates to Help Keep Costs Reasonable For successful meadow plantings, we recommend about 25-25 s/s ft when using a drill and 40-60 when broadcast.89 Riparian Restoration Quote from Williams: “Restored riparian habitats supported communities of native bees with richness and abundance equal to that found in nearby remnants of riparian habitat. Thus, restored
  9. 9. sites appear fully capable of supporting diverse bee communities during the process of restoration. Despite similar species richness however the compositions of the bee communities at restored sites were distinct from those at remnant riparian habitats. Thus, it is less clear that the restoration of structural vegetation and natural habitat successfully restores native bees from the reference riparian habitats.”90 Invasive Plant Removal Fiedler et al found that plant, bee and butterfly diversity lower in fens invaded by glossy buckthorn. Fens where buckthorn was removed had increased pollinator richness and abundance. Removal of privet in Georgia resulted in bee communities similar to non-invaded forests.91 Gardens & Parks Increasing forage wherever possible will benefit bees and other wildlife.92 2008 Farm Bill Pollinator Habitat Provisions The 2008 Farm Bill made pollinators a priority for all USDA programs. We’re still waiting to see the next Farm Bill, but it will likely continue to support pollinator and other beneficial insect habitat that is also fantastic for birds and other wildlife.93 Farms: Soil, Water, & Wildlife Here is a sample of NRCS farm planning. Farmers should contact their local NRCS office to meet with their NRCS District Conservationist.94 USDA NRCS: Tree & Shrub Establishment/Hedgerow Plant flowering shrubs that bloom in succession. Design for multiple benefits, such as wildlife, IPM, visual screen, aesthetics, and erosion control.95 USDA NRCS: Conservation Cover Cover for erodible slopes Permanent vegetation on highly erodible sites96 USDA NRCS: Integrated Pest Management • Protecting pollinators from pesticides Establishing habitat for other beneficial insects97 USDA NRCS: Field Border • Can include a diverse mix of native and lower cost non-native plants or native local ecotype materials.98 Roadside Habitat Multiple benefits of native pollinator habitat on roadsides. • Provides habitat for pollinators and songbirds • Helps to lower maintenance costs • Vegetation can act as a snow fence in winter • Aesthetically pleasing, reduces driver fatigue The biggest concern for many people is deer, but evidence indicates that deer are not any more abundant in planted roadsides than mown or weedy roadsides, and in fact may prefer mown roadsides because they prefer to eat tender new growth.99 Additional Resources100 Further Information: Native Plant Database The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has a set of special lists for bees and butterflies. From the main page, click on the blue map.101 Further Information: Native Plant Database Below the map is a list of special collections. If you click on them, you can then narrow the dataset to state, etc.
  10. 10. 102 Especially for Bumble Bees For bumble bees, Conserving Bumble Bees is available on the Xerces website as a free .pdf.103 Further Information: NRCS Resources For specific information about the new Farm Bill supports for pollinator conservation, your first point of contact should be your local NRCS service center. Nationwide the NRCS is conducting staff training and developing new guidelines to assist farmers in developing on-farm pollinator habitat.104 Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries105 Further Information: The Xerces Society All of these publications are available free from the Xerces website, which includes much more info on other invertebrates, including a new migratory dragonfly citizen science project.106 Further Information: Resource Center Finally, many additional materials are available from the Xerces Society. Among these are fact sheets on the role of native pollinators, artificial nest construction and management guidelines, farm management booklets, and links to various regional resources. Most Xerces Society publications are available as free downloads on our website.107 Further Information: Publications Attracting Native Pollinators is a terrific resource, with info about all sorts of pollinators, habitat establishment, plants, etc.108 Take Home Message Wildflower-rich habitats support beneficial insects & other wildlife Ensure • Diverse forage & nesting sites Management for insect diversity109 Thank you!110 The Xerces Society Since 1971, the Society has worked to protect wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Xerces blue butterfly (Glaucopsychexerces), the first U.S. butterfly to go extinct due to human activities.111 Questions? Comments?