TWU Butterfly Garden Pollen Database and Its Practical Application to Plant-Pollinator Studies
Urban sprawling fragments native plant-pollinator habitat. However, urban pollinator gardens, as those initiated at TWU, contribute to pollinator conservation. The purpose of this project is to investigate plant- pollinator relationships and build a network of plants and their pollinators based on pollen identification. Using a scanning electron microscope, pollen collected from 65 plant species belonging to 21 plant families and 20 pollinators were observed at magnifications of 50X to 3500X. Plants from the Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Lamiaceae, Malvaceae, Onagraceae, Plantaginaceae, Acanthaceae, and Verbenaceae families were mostly preferred for nectar feeding and/or pollen collection by Swallowtail, Fritillary, and Monarch butterflies, bumble bee, and honey bee pollinator species. The network of mutualistic plant-pollinator relationships will be completed by comparing and matching pollen images from plants and pollinators. This research will provide valuable information on restoration and conservation of pollinator ecosystems. The TWU butterfly gardens are valuable resources for sustainability education and student research projects.