Los Angeles Native Pollinators Project
We are a team of five environmental science undergraduates partnered with the Theodore Payne Foundation, working on our senior project for the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Through our studies at UCLA, we have all developed a passion for protecting the environment and biodiversity, especially right here in our city of Los Angeles! The goal of our research project is to study the relationship between native plants and pollinators in Los Angeles in the hopes of determining whether wider use of native plants in LA gardens can help support local pollinator populations in light of global pollinator decline.
The research question we are aiming to address is “Can wider use of native plants boost pollinator populations in Southern California?”
To do this, our team will conduct field research, lab work, data analysis, and surveys to begin to find answers to real world, critical environmental problems. In our research, we will be traveling to native and non native gardens across Los Angeles and collecting insect samples. Analyzing these samples in the lab requires dissecting microscopes in order to identify taxonomy of the insects.
In order to classify our insects, we need dissecting scopes. Without this important tool, our team will be unable to properly determine whether a captured insect is a pollinator. In order to determine how useful native plants are in restoring pollinator populations, we need to be able to fully categorize every insect we bring back to the lab. By donating, you will allow us to buy these microscopes and help support research into maintaining the amazing biodiversity we have in Southern California, which is one of the rare “biodiversity hotspots” in the world.
A pollinator is any species which provides a specific service to a plant; the service of pollination. Many species of plants require insect pollinators to reproduce. As pollinator populations decline across the globe, food supply is threatened since agricultural crops depend on pollinators, and the biodiversity of the plants and animals is at risk.
One main driver of pollinator decline is habitat loss. Unfortunately, many of the previously common insects of Los Angeles have seen their population declining because of loss of the native plants they have coevolved with. For example, the Monarch, which typically roosts overwinter in Los Angeles has seen their population decline by almost 97% in recent years. The Monarch requires the milkweed plant to complete its reproduction cycle; the urban sprawl of Los Angeles and reduction in milkweed plants may be a contributor to the reduction in Monarch population. Through our project we hope to find scientific evidence on whether increasing the use of native plants in Los Angeles can help mitigate local pollinator decline, and maintain Southern California’s unique biodiversity.