“Small Spaces, Big Benefit” was originally broadcast live on Oct. 13. It was presented by Karen Cole, Cindy Bennington and Peter May of Stetson University. View the recording above.
Learn about pollinator research in the Volusia Sandhill Ecosystem, a 0.5-hectare urban habitat fragment at the Gillespie Museum, Stetson University, DeLand. Established in 2011 and supported by a Florida Wildflower Foundation grant, this is an ongoing restoration of the Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) sandhill habitat that was native to western Volusia County before the area’s agricultural and residential transformation began in the 1880s.
In addition to an overview of this teaching landscape by Gillespie Museum director Karen Cole, the presentation describes initiatives and research in the site that have increased public awareness about native pollinators and assessed the ability of the landscape to support a diverse insect pollinator community.
The most recent research, conducted by Professors Cindy Bennington and Peter May, was published in Natural Areas Journal (“Pollinator Communities of Restored Sandhills,” April 2020) and describes a comparison of insect visitation to flowering plants in two sites — the campus urban restoration site and a sandhill site at nearby Heart Island Conservation Area. Their data show that total insect visitation rates were similar, suggesting that even a small urban fragment is capable of maintaining abundant pollinators.
- Cindy Bennington and Peter May, “Pollinator Communities of Restored Sandhills: A Comparison of Insect Visitation Rates to Generalist and Specialist Flowering Plants in Sandhill Ecosystems of Central Florida,” Natural Areas Journal 40(2), 168-178 (6 April 2020).
Globally, urbanization and other forms of land use change have been implicated in widespread pollinator declines and disruptions to plant–pollinator interactions. A growing body of literature, however, suggests that urban habitat fragments can provide oases for both plant and insect diversity.
- Karen Cole and Cindy Bennington, “From the Ground Up Natural History Education in an Urban Campus Restoration,” Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 16, Special Issue 10 (2017).
A discussion of the first phase of development of the Volusia Sandhill Ecosystem as a case history: with volunteer labor and modest funding, a small but visible corner of a university campus has been developed as a community-based environmental project, a research site for the undergraduate curriculum, and an urban forest with environmental benefits.
- Volusia Sandhill Ecosystem website
- Plants of the Volusia Sandhill (PDF)
- Sandhill Ecosystem and Ecology Resources
- Gillespie Museum website
- Follow the Volusia Sandhill Ecosystem on Facebook to see their Wildflower Wednesday posts.