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Tuesday, January 30 • 11:20am - 11:40am
UPLAND GAME BIRDS & POLLINATORS: Planting for Pollinators: Evaluation of Four Prairie Seed Mixes

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AUTHORS. Madison R. Rancour; Natasha J. Blomberg; Margaret A. Kuchenreuther, University of Minnesota, Morris

ABSTRACT. This study evaluates plantings of four mixes of native prairie forbs and grasses developed by the NRCS Bismarck Plant Materials Center with the goal of evaluating species establishment and attractiveness to pollinators. It also documents pollinator diversity in our region. In spring 2014 we planted two replicates of four pollinator mixes: 100%, 75%, 50%, and 25% prairie forbs mixed with native grasses. In summers 2015 and 2016 twice/week we walked a transect through each plot to count insects and note the plant species they visited. We also vouchered and identified insect visitors. Once/week we walked each transect to count flowers of each species in bloom. As the stand matured we observed an increase in natives, but by 2016 only 13 of 20 planted forbs had bloomed. In some plots we also observed strong establishment of perennial weeds, such as crown vetch and Canada thistle. The experiment attracted a wide variety of pollinators (123 morphospecies in 22 families), which often exhibited clear floral preferences. As the stand matured, honey bees and bumble bees shifted their preference from non-natives to natives. In both years small bees visited plots with higher densities of native forbs, and more often visited natives over weeds. Honey bees and bumble bees disproportionately preferred the mint species wild bergamot and anise hyssop, while small bees exhibited more generalist behavior. Plots planted with the highest percentage of native forbs attracted the most pollinators overall. Therefore, mixes should contain at least 50% forb seeds to ensure high attractiveness to pollinators, though 75% is even better. One complication in our analysis was a large difference in species establishment between replicate plots and extensive weed invasion in some plots. Therefore, a second conclusion is the importance of careful site preparation to eliminate perennial weeds and their propagules before establishing natives.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am
103B

Attendees (1)