Research

Kentucky Prairie Restorations

Prairie habitats are a novel landscape in the state of Kentucky that can provide vital habitat for a diverse group of species. Pollinators and their floral resources are important functional groups in these prairies and my research focuses on the local and landscape level factors that influence these groups of species. By using a combination of approaches, I ask questions about floral phenology, soil microbial function, urbanization, pollinator demographics and more.

Floral Phenology

Increasing temperatures and changing moisture regimes are known to cause shifts in floral phenology. These phenological shifts have been extensively studied in montane regions and using experimental tools. My research asks how floral phenology is influenced by urbanization and soil parameters. Louisville, KY is one of the strongest urban heat islands in the US, with summertime highs as much as 3-5°C warmer in urban areas than in surrounding rural areas. By surveying floral communities across an urbanization gradient my research looks at the effect this urban heat island has on floral phenology. Additionally, I am surveying the soil communities and soil structure at these sites to better understand the role that soils play in phenology.

 

Solitary Bee Demographics

Several recent studies have found solitary cavity-nesting bees increase along an urbanization gradient, while most other bees decrease. My work attempts to identify a mechanism for this increase, by looking at bee demographics. I have set up solitary bee nests at all prairie restorations to observe trends in nest establishment, fecundity and larval survivability across an urbanization gradient.

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