Pollinators impact approximately 35% of the world's crop production. As agriculture intensifies, pollinators experience a loss in floral resources and nesting habitats. Contour buffers, a common practice intended to slow water runoff, may benefit pollinators. Dr. Mary Harris, and her lab, are exploring the extent these contour buffers provide habitat for native Iowa bees.
Eight landowners in central and northeastern Iowa agreed to allow the Harris lab access to their property. Vegetation surveys and pollinator identification was conducted along the existing contour buffers. Thanks to funding from the Lois H. Tiffany Scholarship Fund, two undergraduate students participated in this summer's field research. Throughout the field season, Brooklyn Snyder and Hailey Waller gained skills in plant and insect identification. They also learned about insect preparation and pinning techniques.
Upon completion of the research in September 2018, the Harris lab will have amassed five years of bee and vegetation census data across Iowa. The data can help determine how well the strips are mitigating the effects of habitat loss on our native bees.