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Characterization of Salix nigra floral insect community and activity of three native Andrena bees

By Sandra J Simon, Ken Keefover-Ring, Yong-Lak Park, Gina Wimp, Julianne Grady, Stephen P DiFazio

Posted 25 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.23.004309

Salix nigra (black willow) is a widespread tree that hosts many species of polylectic hymenopterans and oligolectic bees of the genus Andrena. The early flowering time of S. nigra makes it an important nutritive resource for arthropods emerging from hibernation. However, since S. nigra is dioecious, not all insect visits will lead to successful pollination. Using both visual observation and pan-trapping we characterized the community of arthropods that visited S. nigra flowers and assessed the differences among male and female trees as well as the chemical and visual drivers that influenced community composition across three years. We found that male trees consistently supported higher diversity of insects than female trees and only three insect species, all Andrena spp. , consistently visited both sexes. Additionally, A. nigrae , which was the only insect that occurred more on female than male flowers, correlated strongly to volatile cues. This suggests that cross-pollinators cue into specific aspects of floral scent, but diversity of floral visitors is driven strongly by visual cues. Through time the floral activity of two Andrena species remained stable, but A. nigrae visited less in 2017 when flowers bloomed earlier than other years. When native bee emergence does not synchronize with bloom, activity appears to be greatly diminished which could threaten species that only subsist on a single host. Despite the community diversity of S. nigra flowers, its productivity depends on a small fraction of species that are not threatened by competition, but rather rapidly changing conditions that lead to host-insect asynchrony.

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