Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Taylor H. Ricketts
Productive, resilient and sustainable agricultural systems are required to meet the immediate needs of a burgeoning human population, while avoiding ecosystem collapse. Agriculture provides food, fiber, fuels and other products for our current population of 7 billion and is still the major livelihood for 40% of people worldwide. By replacing natural habitat and employing chemical inputs, agriculture also negatively impacts biodiversity and impairs the provision of ecosystem services. This poses a challenge for agriculture as these impacted services are often those required for high yielding and high-quality crop production. Evidence is accumulating that agricultural management can safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem services while maintaining production, but critical questions remain concerning how management actions are shaped by broader landscape pattern and how these actions influence service-providing organisms across space and time.
Through a combination of observational, experimental and modeling approaches, my dissertation examines relationships between management actions, landscape pattern and service-providing organisms using crop pollination by wild bees as a model system. First, I investigate how local management and landscape pattern interact to affect pollination services and the abundance and diversity of native bees in Vermont, USA. I then use two established models of pollinator foraging to investigate whether one popular intervention, enhancing floral resources, improves crop visitation, and whether pollinator traits and landscape pattern influence this effect. Next, I use a national data set of native bee diversity to test whether habitat enhancements increase taxonomic and functional diversity of native bee communities. Finally, I investigate whether resource continuity provided by consecutively blooming crops benefits wild bee communities. These four chapters contribute ecological knowledge of plant-animal interactions in anthropogenic landscapes. My findings also provide land managers with clear information about the effects of landscape conservation and farm management on crop pollinators.
Number of Pages
Nicholson, Charles C., "No Farm Is An Island: Pollinators And Pollination In Agricultural Landscapes" (2018). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 985.