Healthy pollinator populations are critical for maintaining plant diversity within natural ecosystems as well as many food crops. But despite their importance, there has been an alarming decline in pollinators worldwide due to human impacts such as excessive use of pesticides and land conversion.
A Rocha volunteer scientists have been conducting surveys of pollinator communities at Brooksdale Environmental Centre since 2017. The goals of this project are to document the diversity and abundance of insect pollinators across different habitats and assess the value of Brooksdale’s different ecosystems for pollinators. Surveys consist mainly of photography for pollinator morphospecies identification and abundance counts within 1m2 quadrats. Habitats surveyed at Brooksdale have included meadow, forest, vegetable crops, herb garden, flower garden, and our pollinator garden that was established in 2017 with the primary purpose of attracting native insect pollinators.
From 2017-2018, 61 bee morphospecies were found across all habitats, representing 5 families. Wasps, beetles, and hummingbirds were also found pollinating flowers, bringing the total to 127 pollinator morphospecies. Pollinator diversity was highest in the pollinator garden, suggesting that our garden has been successful in attracting many species of bees and other pollinating insects. Trailing blackberry was found to be one of the most important flowers for pollinators at Brooksdale, partly because of its early bloom time. Some flowering crop plants such as dill and kale were also found to attract a large diversity and abundance of pollinators. As a working farm and education centre, Brooksdale strives to use pollinator friendly management practices, such as maintaining a succession of flowering crops, maintaining patches of native blackberry, allowing weeds to flower outside crop and garden areas, and increasing and maintaining flowering plant diversity within the pollinator garden. We are grateful to Corey and Fred Bunnell and Anthea Farr for their ongoing work on this pollinator study.