Graduate Student Margaret Rei Scampavia Receives UC Davis Botanical Society Research Grant to Study Pollination Ecology
May 15, 2012
DAVIS--Margaret Rei Scampavia, a doctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, has received a UC Davis Botanical Society Research Grant to help fund her work on pollination ecology.
Margaret Rei Scampavia
Scampavia will use the one-year $2000 grant for her research on nest site selection and floral visitation of ground-nesting bees in a serpentine, non-serpentine grassland mosaic.
The UC Davis graduate student, who goes by "Rei," studies with major professor and nematologist Edwin Lewis, vice chair of the Department of Entomology, and co-major professor and pollination ecologist Neal Williams. She has served as a field assistant in the Williams lab since 2011, the same year she began her doctoral studies at UC Davis.
“In order to successfully reproduce, outcrossing plants must be able to transfer pollen of sufficient quality and quantity,” Scampavia wrote in her grant application. “Because many plants rely on animal pollinators, primarily bees, to perform this service, pollinators are crucial in the maintenance of plant community diversity.”
“The abundances of bees are determined by interactions between floral resource availability and nesting resource availability, but the relative import of each of these factors on shaping bee communities is poorly understood,” she wrote.
“Serpentine grasslands are a unique system in which to study these relationships because of their striking heterogeneity in both plant community (including several rare, threatened, and endangered endemic species) and soil conditions. Previous studies of pollinators of serpentine endemic plants have either focused on only one plant species, or have surveyed bee communities without establishing floral relationships.”
In her study of bee community composition based on both floral visitation and nest site location, Scampavia aims to (1) correlate bee community composition with serpentine grassland plant community diversity by establishing relationships between specific plants and their pollinators, (2) compare species complexes visiting plants in serpentine and adjacent non serpentine grasslands, and (3) identify unifying edaphic factors of nest sites utilized by bees that visit serpentine endemic plants.
She predicts that because of the short flowering period of serpentine plants, “most pollinators visiting plants in serpentine grasslands will be generalist foragers, but that an increase in bee species richness in and abundance will be correlated with greater plant diversity due to an increase in pollinator service quantity.”
Scampavia also predicts that
--The species visiting serpentine and adjacent non-serpentine grasslands will differ in both richness and abundance, due to differences in floral composition and phenology
--Bees visiting serpentine endemic plants will nest most frequently in non serpentine soils, and other factors such as ground cover; soil moisture, particle size, and salinity will further limit nesting resources.
Scampavia, who received her bachelor’s degree in biology with honors from Mills College, Oakland, in 2008, has also studied the pollinator behavior on subpopulations of Ash Meadows Blazing Star (Mentzelia leucophylla), a rare species of flowering plant found only in the desert wetlands of Nye County, Nevada.
The herb, on the list of the nation’s threatened species, shows population decrease due to habitat degradation, including mining, road construction, real estate development and agricultural practices.
Scampavia presented her research (with Mills Valley College biology professor Bruce Pavik) on “The Behavior of Pollinators Influences Pollen Movement in Rare Plants of Ash Meadows” at the 2010 Ash Meadows Symposium in Pahrump, Nev. She also presented her research (with Pavik) on “The Effects of Pollinator Behavior on Subpopulations of Mentzelia Leucophylla (Ash Meadows Blazing Star) at the 2009 Ash Meadows Symposium.
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology