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News: Saluting National Pollinator Week June 18-24 with News from GCA Pollinator Fellows


June 17, 2018

Eleven years ago, the U.S. Senate designated a week in June to highlight the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations, National Pollinator Week, which has grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and beetles. Through scholarships, the GCA provides funding to study the causes of pollinator decline, leading to solutions for conservation and sustainability.

Established in 2013, the GCA Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship provides funding to graduate students to examine the causes of pollinator decline, in particular bees, bats, butterflies, and moths. Twenty-three fellowships have been funded to date. Here are recent reports from scholars about their research.

Rachael Bononan, 2017 fellow, is a postdoctoral researcher working with both Tufts University and Washington State University studying the at-risk Puget blue butterfly, aiming to better understand the natural history of the relationship between Puget blue caterpillars and their ant protectors.

Hamutahl Cohen, 2016 fellow, doctoral student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been studying how the availability of flowers and nesting materials influence the microbiome composition and health status of the Blue Orchard Bee, Osmia lignaria, an important pollinator of commercial almonds, apples, and stone fruits.

Rebecca Dalton, 2016 fellow, doctoral student at Duke University, is examining the relationship between timing of flowering, or flowering phenology, and competition for pollinators between co-flowering species in the Rocky Mountains, Claytonia lanceolata and Mertensia fusiformis.  

Michael Smith, 2016 fellow, is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Collective Behavior at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz, Germany.  He is examining how movement patterns change at the honey bee colony level and how individual bees detect their colony's developmental state, work that could help diagnose colony health at an earlier stage.

Ania Majewska, 2015 fellow, doctoral student at the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, has been studying the monarch butterfly and the effect of planting non-native tropical milkweed on monarch disease dynamics and migratory behavior. She also is exploring more generally how gardens can influence pollinator conservation.

Gabriella Pardee, 2015 fellow, is conducting postdoctoral research at the University of Minnesota's Bee Lab, working in remnant and restored prairies throughout western Minnesota to examine how landscape context influences native bee community composition and plant-pollinator networks. She further is investigating pollination efficiency of wild bee species for several prairie plant species.

Samantha Alger, 2014 fellow, is a doctoral candidate in the biology department at The University of Vermont, focusing on RNA viruses in wild bumble bee species and transmission routes of viruses between managed honey bees and wild bumble bees.

Evan Palmer-Young, 2014 fellow, is researching temperature dependence of interactions between bumble bees, parasites, and symbiotic microbiota as a post-doctoral fellow in the Entomology Department at the University of California, Riverside.

Lauren Ponisio, 2014 fellow, also is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Riverside, where she is examining how management practices in almond orchards affect the interacting risks of inadequate bee nutrition, pesticide exposure, and parasites.

National Pollinator Week is sponsored by the Pollinator Partnership, which assists the GCA annually in selecting its pollinator fellows.


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