Mentor: Dr. Neal Williams
Within pollinator communities subsets of pollinators exist. Specialists include pollinators that limit their visitation to only one plant species, and generalists include those that visit a variety of plant species. Because they visit primarily a single plant species, specialist pollinators would, at first, appear to be a highly effective pollinator. However, specialist pollinators have been shown to visit plant species that are also visited by abundant and diverse generalist pollinators (Hurd 1975). As a result, the contribution of generalists may overwhelm the role of specialists (Thompson and Pellmyr 1992). In order to quantify the value of specialist and generalists to the reproductive success of the host plant species, we compared the effectiveness and rates of visitation by generalists and specialist bees visiting Sphaeralcea laxa, a plant native to the Chihuahuan Desert. Fieldwork centers and sites are located in the upper Chihuahuan Desert near the intersection of the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua, and the U.S. states of Arizona and New Mexico.
The conclusions of this study could allow for a greater understanding of the survival dependencies of host species on specialist pollinators. In addition, the results of this study aspire to offer insight that will assist conservation efforts of native plant and bee species.
Hurd, PD, Linsley EF (1975) The principle Larrea bees of the southwestern United States. Smithsonian Contribution to Zoology 193-74pp
Thompson JN, Pelllmyr O (1992) Mutualism with pollinating see parasites amid co-pollinators constraints on specialists. Ecology 73:1780-1791