Our department is participating in a region-wide project spearheaded by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) investigating the effects of management practices on pollinator populations within xeric (low moisture) grassland, shrubland and woodland habitats. This project involves documenting, sharing, and refining best management practices, implementing experimental adaptive management at select sites to address specific, unanswered questions about management techniques and developing standardized vegetation and pollinator monitoring protocols tied to experimental management sites.
At the Foundation’s Head of the Plains property, we are collecting pollinators during four sampling sessions from May through September by netting and placing “bee bowls” (small, colored plastic bowls of soapy water that attract pollinators) along established transects. All collected insects are submitted to entomologists contracted by MassWildlife for identification. We also contributed to the development and field testing of a standardized vegetation monitoring protocol to document plant communities in xeric habitats adjacent to bee bowl transects and are sharing information about our recent sandplain grassland management practices.
All of the supplies as well as the pollinator identification (which is difficult and requires a trained entomologist) are being provided to project participants in exchange for our time in the field. A total of eleven sites across the northeastern U.S are participating in this study, and preliminary results from all samples submitted indicate that Head of the Plains has the highest pollinator species diversity of all the sites currently being monitored.