Claire Parker Rose Hills
Native Pollinator Assembly and Fire Ecology in Yosemite National Park
Pollination systems, particularly the coevolutionary forces between plants and pollinating insects, have proven vital to both natural and managed landscapes. My research will examine the assembly of pollinator communities in response to fire in backcountry settings of Yosemite National Park (YNP), through the dynamics of succession along a chronosequence since fire disturbance. Meadows created by fires in YNP, previously vegetated with native wildflowers and grasses, have been invaded by non-native cheat grass (Bromus tectorum). This invasion is thought to have substantial effect on the native California ground-nesting bee species that inhabit the area because the grass creates a thatch that blocks potential nesting sites. It is essential to understand the interplay of human-managed land systems and their biotic communities in order to preserve functioning ecosystems. The existence of native bees is also crucial for the continued pollination of remaining native plant species in this valuable California ecosystem.