Amanda Brewster, 2002

Yale University

Pollinator response to floral resource depletion: a community level study

Body size plays a vital role in determining where animals forage for food in a given community of resources, but size effects on foraging preferences are usually very difficult to isolate because animals that vary significantly in size rarely share food resources. Bees are a useful exception; all bees – regardless of size – feed on nectar and pollen from flowers, making them an ideal system to explore the interaction between body size and foraging choices. This study measured bees’ foraging response to a natural distribution of nectar in a plant community over the course of one day, concentrating on how bee size related to floral host choice. Analysis revealed a significant negative correlation between bee body weight and diversity of host flower species, indicating that larger bees tend to concentrate their foraging efforts on one or two plants in a plot while smaller bees are more generalized.

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