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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Socioecological factors affecting plant-pollinator systems in Metro Vancouver's Butterflyway gardens Fan, Sophia Lucy


Despite habitat loss contributing to worldwide declines in biodiversity, urbanized areas can harbour a surprising amount of pollinator diversity. Cities contain a wide array of floral resources from human interventions, and a growing public interest in urban pollinator conservation has resulted in a notable increase of intentionally managed habitat. Urban green spaces like residential yards, community gardens, and parks can attract a variety of species through providing plants for nectar, pollen, nesting habitat, and larval herbivory. While many garden characteristics are known to affect pollinator species richness and abundance, few studies examine the gardener’s influence on the garden. Human decisions fundamentally shape urban environments and, in this case, gardeners have direct control over garden plant composition. By partnering with the David Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway Project based in Metropolitan Vancouver, Canada, this study investigated 20 pollinator gardens on how gardener decision-making, barriers, effort, and budget affected garden plant communities, and in turn how the richness and geographic origin of flowering plants affected pollinator species richness and visitation. In particular, gardeners are interested in whether there are any especially attractive plants to maintain for pollinators. Results indicate that plant richness is the only significant factor in explaining pollinator visitation and richness. Neither the proportion of garden species that are native plants nor floral area had any effect on pollinator measures. However, the relationship between proportion native plant richness and pollinator richness differed among sampling periods. There was overwhelming positive support for planting ecologically-functional plant species, in spite of the wide range of native and non-native, ornamental plants found in gardens. No gardener preferences, barriers, or key effort and budget variables correlated with garden plant species richness. Gardening preferences and barriers varied between solo and community gardens. There were 19 highly attractive pollinator plants in this system, including those such as Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), Douglas aster (Symphyotrichum subspicatum), globe thistle (Echinops ritro), and giant onion (Allium giganteum).

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