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Use of molecular tools and autonomous game cameras for monitoring at-risk pollinators and plant-pollinator interactions


Jinelle Sperry, Wildlife Biologist, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center:

Charles Plimpton, Biologist, University of Illinois:

Jessup Weichelt, Endangered Species Biologist, Fort McCoy:

Timothy Wilder, Natural Resources Branch Chief, Fort McCoy:

Aron Katz, Wildlife Biologist, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center:


In addition to providing land for military training, many of the land bases where Army installations reside are ecologically significant – providing refuge for many of the nation's threatened and endangered species. Pollinator species have experienced drastic recent declines and, consequently, numerous pollinators have been federally listed, including many species found on military installations. This situation makes rapid, efficient, and accurate assessment of pollinator communities a conservation and management imperative. Traditional monitoring of pollinators and plant-pollinator interactions can be time-consuming, expensive and require extensive taxonomic expertise. However, recent advances in various technologies have shown promise for pollinator monitoring and management.Here we present results from three recent projects exploring traditional and emerging technologies and methods for monitoring at-risk pollinators on military lands: 1) use of various colored vane traps to document pollinator distribution on Fort Hood, TX; 2) use of molecular metabarcoding to assess plant-pollinator interactions via pollen and flower collection at Fort Hood and Fort McCoy, WI; and 3) use of close-focus game cameras for monitoring plant-pollinator interactions. In combination, these projects demonstrate the successful employment of traditional methods, game cameras and molecular technologies to survey for and monitor pollinator species.Our results suggest that, although all these technologies present viable and cost-effective options, choice of technologies depends on focal management questions.

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