Many other taxa will benefit from increased grassland habitat, native pollinators including hundreds of native bees and butterflies including Monarch Butterflies. Population declines can be attributed to many of the same reasons as grassland bird declines including: habitat loss and fragmentation, non-native species, increased use of herbicides and pesticides and climate change.
60 to 90% of the world’s flowering plant species depend on native pollinators and about 30 to 75% of agricultural crops are animal pollinated. This includes the majority of fruits, many vegetables (or their seed crop) and secondary effects from legumes such as alfalfa and clover fed to livestock. The United States grows over 100 crop plants that are pollinated by insects and animals and it has been estimated that insect-pollinated crops directly contributed $20 billion to the United States economy annually.
One of the very best management practices to help reverse declining native pollinator declines is to plant a diversity of native plants. Not only will the new grassland habitat installed by NLP include many species of native flowering plants with long bloom times, we will be adding patches of habitat specifically designed for pollinators. These pollinator patches will include a large variety of flowering plants (10-15 species) and will double as great brood rearing habitat for Northern Bobwhites.
Sam Droege, a USGS scientist, is leading a long-term study collecting baseline data on native bee populations throughout Maryland. While it is a common fact that native bee populations are experiencing significant declines little is still known about native bee ranges within Maryland, abundance, flight times and diversity. Sam and his team are working to answer these questions, for more information and incredible photos, such as the one below, visit the Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab’s website - www.flickr.com/photos/usgsbiml/.
Newly installed grasslands and pollinator patches will provide critical habitat for these native bees in decline, Sam points out “the main conservation issue for all plants and animals in Maryland is the rapid decline in high quality meadow lands and transitional habitats. Almost all the animals that use these lands are now declining.” Though “in high quality habitats rich in native flowering plants, native bee communities rebound.”