Ecological and Evolutionary Shifts in Pollen Chemistry and Their Implications for Pollinators
Yeamans, Rebecca Leigh, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
Carr, David, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
The overall goal of this Masters thesis is to examine what governs pollen nutritional quality for bees. Chapter 1 explores the effect of pollen viability on pollen protein concentrations, with implications for effects on bee development. This study found a significantly positive relationship between pollen viability and pollen protein concentrations, as well as a significantly positive relationship between pollen viability and amount of pollen per flower. Implications of this research indicate that where there are reductions in pollen viability and pollen quantity, the association of inviable pollen with reduced pollen nutritional value shows how factors that promote inbreeding in plants could have cascading effects on the pollinator community. Chapter 2 is a largescale review of all literature to date focusing on amino acid composition of pollen. Specifically, this chapter aims to examine the relationship between amino acid profiles of pollen and the pollinators that consume it, by performing phylogenetic analysis of known amino acid and pollination mode data. Results showed that after controlling for phylogeny, the data analyzed did not show significant evolutionary correlations between pollination mode and amino acid profile. Finally, Chapter 3 introduces a brief review of literature to date regarding the role of pollen amino acids in germination and plant reproduction. The results of this Masters thesis provides answers to several important questions regarding the field of pollination evolutionary ecology, and will be a strong contributor to the study of pollen nutritional quality for bees. It also sheds light on potential problems with analyses to date, and provides an important stepping stone for those looking to continue in this line of research.
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MA (Master of Arts)
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