Assessing Seed Mix Conservation Strategies for Pollinators in New England

Jake Ressel, Bates College


Pollinators are ecologically and economically important. Recently, there has been increasing awareness of declines in insect pollinator populations and concern over the implications of a loss in pollination services. Accordingly, pollinator conservation strategies, which are focused mainly on establishing areas of beneficial habitat, have grown in popularity. Sowing mixes of seeds of pollinator-friendly plants is a widespread approach for achieving this aim. These mixes are based on lists of plants that are purported to be attractive to pollinators; however, these lists rarely provide references to their sources of information and where the evidence of attractiveness is originating from. This thesis aims to address that knowledge gap, with a regional focus on New England. I determine the most commonly used plants in pollinator seed mixes for New England and assess the attractiveness of these plants based on empirical floral attraction studies conducted in the region. I evaluate how well these mixes are suited towards supporting the pollinators that have experienced the greatest declines and are most threatened in New England. Synthesizing across these findings, I offer recommendations for how pollinator conservation initiatives in the area should proceed in the future.