Among all floral visitors, bees are the most abundant and proficient animal pollinators of plants worldwide. However, in bee pollinated plants, pollen can serve a dual purpose – since pollen provides nutrition to bee larvae and adults, pollen is both a reward for bee pollinators and a vector for the transfer of genetic material. As a result, bee activities may conflict, rather than coincide, with pollen transfer success. This project will explore pollinator behavior, pollen removal ability, and deposition effectiveness of the bee genera of Ontario. I will investigate which factors are most important to success for the foraging pollinator and which factors result in the highest rates of pollen transfer for the visited plant. Finally, I will determine the consequences of active pollen collection for plant reproductive success, and explore plant adaptations that may help control pollen movement in a plant population. Results of this work will clarify the role of different groups of bees in the pollination of plants in both natural and agricultural systems.
Alison Parker, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto