Date of Award

May 2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Committee Member

Robert Baldwin

Committee Member

Merle Shepard

Committee Member

Peter Adler

Committee Member

William Bridges

Committee Member

Amnon Levi

Abstract

Widespread declines in both managed and wild pollinators worldwide has led to increasing concern for the valuable ecosystem services they provide for natural systems and agriculture. This study examined the potential benefits of diversifying agricultural landscapes by increasing floral diversity on farms on insect biodiversity and crop pollination services. My focal species, watermelon Citrullus lanatus, is an ideal species for pollination studies because it is entirely dependent on insect pollinators to set fruit. Chapter 1 investigates the effect that wildflower strips on watermelon farms has on the delivery of pollination services to watermelon by the pollinator community. Chapter 2 presents information on the effects that wildflower strips on watermelon fields has on the biodiversity of the overall pollinator community. Chapter 3 examines the foraging behavior of several watermelon pollinator species to determine whether pollinator sharing occurs between wildflower species and watermelon species when they occur sympatrically. Chapter 4 is intended as an extension publication for the general public to gain valuable information about wildflower strips on watermelon farms and the conservation of native pollinators.

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