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Estimating the Distribution of Food Sources for Pollinators in Vegetation Communities of Sand-Dune Systems in Southern Sweden

Wittemann, Maria (2017) BIOM01 20171
Degree Projects in Biology
Popular Abstract
Nectar Sources in Sand Dunes – the Pollinators’ Last Stronghold

Dunes are a habitat of special importance. They preserve a wide range of flowering plant species that has vanished from most places in our intensively used landscape. This is vital for both the survival of the plant species themselves, but also of many insect pollinator species. Pollinators depend on the presence of nectar and pollen that provide energy and affect reproductional success. But which factors determine the availability of flowering plants in dunes?

Climate and soil are usually the most important drivers for vegetational composition. This study focused on entangling the relationship between soil salt content and flowering plants. Southern Sweden is... (More)
Nectar Sources in Sand Dunes – the Pollinators’ Last Stronghold

Dunes are a habitat of special importance. They preserve a wide range of flowering plant species that has vanished from most places in our intensively used landscape. This is vital for both the survival of the plant species themselves, but also of many insect pollinator species. Pollinators depend on the presence of nectar and pollen that provide energy and affect reproductional success. But which factors determine the availability of flowering plants in dunes?

Climate and soil are usually the most important drivers for vegetational composition. This study focused on entangling the relationship between soil salt content and flowering plants. Southern Sweden is especially well suited for this purpose since the gradient of sea salt content from the Kattegat to the Baltic Sea is very steep. Climate, on the contrary, is expected to vary only slightly. Another focus was the detection of threats to plant species in the dunes.

The study sites were five dune systems along the above mentioned gradient, reaching from the Halland coast to Hanö bay. Plant species composition and soil characteristics were investigated along transects. These were set in order to cover the different habitats that are typical for dunes.
Soil is the main factor
Results suggested only a slight impact of sea salt content on the plant species that are important for pollinators; however, salt content is only one of many factors that determine habitat quality for plants. The five studied areas varied a lot in their soil composition. On the Falsterbo peninsula, the soil is very coarse, which favours living conditions for the legume Lathyrus japonicus ssp. maritimus. This plant is an important food source for hymenopterean pollinators (bees, bumblebees, hoverflies, …). At Hanö bay, calcareous base rock creates unique conditions. The composition of flowering species there is highly diverse and the season for nectar and pollen sources is therefore prolonged.
Climate also had a high effect in the study; however, this might be caused by low accuracy of the data and should be further investigated. Threats to dune flora and fauna are highly interconnected. Most dune systems are too narrow; in order to protect inland areas against wind and waves, they are highly stabilized and partly overgrown by trees and bushes. A special threat is the japanese rose, a highly invasive species that suppresses the natural vegetation.
Suggestions for restoration imply therefore the removal of japanese rose and the creation of open soil areas to support less competitive species. Simultaneously, dune systems must be enlargened to secure their protective function. This is of even greater importance since climate change will result in higher water levels and stronger storms. Sand dunes are very well suited to face these challenges if they are given enough space for a dynamic response.


Master’s Degree Project in Biology, 30 credits 2017
Department of Biology, Lund University

Advisor: Pål Axel Olsson
Biodiversity Unit, Department of Biology, Lund University (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Wittemann, Maria
supervisor
organization
course
BIOM01 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
8925065
date added to LUP
2017-09-08 13:25:38
date last changed
2017-09-08 13:25:38
@misc{8925065,
  author       = {Wittemann, Maria},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Estimating the Distribution of Food Sources for Pollinators in Vegetation Communities of Sand-Dune Systems in Southern Sweden},
  year         = {2017},
}