Grazing effects on the plant-pollinator relationship: a contrast of native legumes with an invasive (Astragalus cicer L.)

Dr. Cameron Carlyle | Assistant Professor
Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science
Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences
University of Alberta


Native pollinators experienced a rapid decline in abundance as a result of large scale agricultural conversion across the Canadian prairies and remaining grasslands are important habitat for these species. Pollinators and flowering plants have a mutualistic relationship in which pollinators facilitate plant reproduction and the plants provide nectar and pollen to the insects. However, invasion of grasslands by non-native plants can greatly alter the availability of floral resources for pollinators. It may be possible to use cattle to manage native and non-native legumes and the abundance of pollinators through the timing of grazing and its effect on plant allocation to floral characteristics, but as yet we do not understand the dynamics of these relationships or how they vary among plant or pollinator species. Dr. Carlyle and co-investigator Dr. Jessamyn Manson (Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences) are taking a first step to understanding these complex relationships in order to be better able to manage environmental goods and services from grasslands.