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George Washington Ecology and Pollinator Biodiversity Study Open Access

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This study explores the effect of ecological factors such as plant density, shade, location, and vulnerability to foot traffic on the health of plant-pollinator relationship. By monitoring numerous pollinator populations during Summer of 2018, we gained an understanding of GW's current biodiversity. Targeting specific plots on campus, researchers tracked the appearance of flowers and recorded what insects each plant attracted. Pollinators belonging to six different insect orders were recorded. A total of 53 different pollinator species were identified: 1 dermaptera, 1 orthoptera, 4 hemiptera, 10 coleoptera, 18 diptera, and 19 hymenoptera. The results revealed some plants attracted a greater variety of pollinators, while others attracted many of only one family. For example, Echinacea was located in two different locations. One location labeled "Tonic" was larger in area and had a denser, diverse population of available flowers in comparison to the "Bell Hall Plot" where Echinacea was the only resource, and planted equidistant. The Echinacea in "Tonic" attracted over six times the amount of pollinators (Tonic 59: Bell Hall 9 from the Apidae, Megachilidae, and Halictidae). We observed 25 different plant species, each for about a month, tracking the appearance and disappearance of pollinators with flowers, throughout the summer. For example, plants such as the purple sage, which originally received roughly 10-13 honeybees per survey at the beginning of June, only received an average of 4 per survey by the end of June. Overall, the Tonic Plot attracted the largest number of species. It was in direct sunlight, isolated from foot traffic, and had diverse floral resources available the entire summer. This study will continue on into the Summer of 2019. Currently, the survey has provided a basic preview of factors creating a healthy ecosystem on campus, as well as the pollinators living here.

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