Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Flower visitor communities are similar on remnant and reconstructed tallgrass prairies despite forb community differences.

Abstract

One common goal of habitat restoration and reconstruction is to reinstate the biodiversity found at intact reference sites. However, few researchers have examined whether these practices reinstate communities of flower-visiting insects. This is unfortunate, as anthropogenically mediated declines in flower visitors, including bees (the primary pollinators for most terrestrial ecosystems), beetles, flies, and butterflies, have been reported worldwide. Biodiversity declines may be especially severe in North America's tallgrass prairie, a once-vast grassland that has experienced severe destruction and degradation due to agricultural conversion. As such, we assessed the structure of forb and flower-visiting insect communities as a whole and two subsets of the flower visitor community-bees and phytophagous beetles-across five tallgrass prairie remnants and five reconstructed prairies (former crop fields) in Kansas from 2013 to 2015. Remnant prairies had significantly higher forb diversity and differed significantly in forb composition, compared to reconstructed prairies. Despite the dissimilarities in forb community structure, there were no differences in flower visitor diversity or abundance between remnants and reconstructed prairies. However, when considered separately, bee communities exhibited significantly greater variability in composition on reconstructed prairies, likely due to the abundance of generalist bee species visiting non-native legumes at two reconstructed prairies. Our work provides evidence that prairie habitat reconstruction is a valuable tool for reestablishing flower-visiting insect communities and also emphasizes the considerable role that non-native species may play in structuring grassland plant-bee interactions.