Citizen scientists document geographic patterns in pollinator communities
It is widely recognized that plants are visited by a diverse community of pollinators that are highly variable in space and time, but biologists are often unable to investigate the pollinator climate across species’ entire ranges. To study the community of pollinators visiting the spring ephemerals Claytonia virginica and Claytonia caroliniana, we assembled a team of citizen scientists to monitor pollinator visitation to plants throughout the species’ ranges. Citizen scientists documented some interesting differences in pollinator communities; specifically, that western C. virginica and C. caroliniana populations are visited more often by the pollen specialist bee Andrena erigeniae and southern populations are visited more often by the bombyliid fly Bombylius major. Differences in pollinator communities throughout the plants’ range will have implications for the ecology and evolution of a plant species, including that differences may affect the male fitness of individual plants or the reproductive success of plant populations, or both.
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