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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Pest Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #388944

Research Project: Biological Control and Habitat Restoration for Invasive Weed Management

Location: Pest Management Research

Title: Pollination biology and insect visitation of pasqueflower (Ranunculaceae: Pulsatilla patens ssp. multifida) in the Little Missouri National Grasslands of North Dakota

Author
item Campbell, Joshua
item Morphew, Alexandra

Submitted to: Prairie Naturalist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/17/2021
Publication Date: 10/13/2022
Citation: Campbell, J.W., Morphew, A.R. 2022. Pollination biology and insect visitation of pasqueflower (Ranunculaceae: Pulsatilla patens ssp. multifida) in the Little Missouri National Grasslands of North Dakota. Prairie Naturalist. Special Issue(1):1-10.

Interpretive Summary: Pasqueflower is one of the most common and first flowers to bloom in the spring within the Northern Great Plains. Despite the commonality, little is know about bees and other insects that utilize this plants pollen and nectar. Additionally, it is unknown whether the plant depends on bees for pollination. We surveyed pasqueflowers in the Little Missouri National Grassland for flower insect visitors and compared flowers that had bags placed over them (to exclude insect visitors) to flowers that were allowed insect visitors. Overall, we found that flowers that did not have insect visitors produced fewer seeds. Our flower visiting insect surveys documented numerous bee species and other insects are highly attracted to early blooming pasqueflowers.

Technical Abstract: The Little Missouri National Grassland, located in western North Dakota, is the largest grassland in the United States. Little is known about pollinator communities within this region of the northern Great Plains. Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens) is one of the first plants to flower in the early spring. We investigated the pollination biology of this plant through an insect exclusion study and observational surveys to determine if the plant is dependent on insects for setting seed and to document the common insect visitors to open flowers. We found that flowers in which insects were excluded from visiting had a lower chance of producing seed heads and developing mature seeds. However, flowers that did produce mature seeds from both treatments produced similar numbers of seeds per flower. The most common likely pollinators were andrenid and halictid bees; specifically genera Andrena and Lasioglossum. Thus, the early spring bee community may be dependent on the Pasqueflower for pollen and nectar due to the lack of other flowering plants during this time period.