SURF

Claire Parker

Native Pollinator Assembly and Fire Ecology in Yosemite National Park

Pollination systems, particularly the coevolutionary forces between plants and pollinating insects, have proven vital to both natural and managed landscapes. My research will examine the assembly of pollinator communities in response to fire in backcountry settings of Yosemite National Park (YNP), through the dynamics of succession along a chronosequence since fire disturbance. Meadows created by fires in YNP, previously vegetated with native wildflowers and grasses, have been invaded by non-native cheat grass (Bromus tectorum). This invasion is thought to have substantial effect on the native California ground-nesting bee species that inhabit the area because the grass creates a thatch that blocks potential nesting sites. It is essential to understand the interplay of human-managed land systems and their biotic communities in order to preserve functioning ecosystems. The existence of native bees is also crucial for the continued pollination of remaining native plant species in this valuable California ecosystem.

Message to Sponsor

Conducting this research will help me refine skills of plant and pollinator field collection and species identification. I will gain experience with experimental design and field methods in entomology, and will broaden my understanding of ecology and coevolutionary relationships of plant-pollinator systems. My future plans include a career in National Park Service biological consulting, and by participating in this project I will gain the field experience, technical and botanical knowledge necessary to prepare for such a career. This project will also help me achieve my goal of attending a graduate program in plant biology and natural resource management.
  • Major: Genetics and Plant Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
  • Mentor: Claire Kremen, Environmental Science, Policy & Management