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Tuesday, February 7 • 2:40pm - 3:00pm
Technical Session. Pipelines to Pollination: Implications of Vegetation Management on Marcellus–Utica Natural Gas Pipeline Rights-of-way

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AUTHORS: Gabriel Karns, Claire Beck - The Ohio State University, School of Environment and Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Long-term and steady declines of native bee and Lepidopteran populations are well documented.  Within highly-modified landscapes, overall pollinator habitat has deteriorated but these very environments hold at least one important opportunity for pollinator habitat conservation—rights-of-way (ROWs).  Specific to our study, pipeline ROWs are required to be clear of woody encroachment and remain some form of early successional habitat.  To gain baseline knowledge for pipeline ROWs in the Marcellus–Utica region, we sampled non-woody vegetation and Lepidopteran (butterflies and skippers) and native bee populations within 24 study plots, May−August 2016, in eastern Ohio.  Each plot was sampled 4 times in 3-week sequential intervals.  Plot locations were surrounded by pole-stage forests and buffered from adjacent land cover types to avoid potential confounding.  Surveys documented 88 flowering plant species.  Flowering bloom abundance peaked during the third sampling interval and decreased in the fourth, but flowering diversity increased throughout and peaked at summer’s end.  We documented 32 Lepidopteran species, and Lepidopteran species richness and abundance peaked during the final sampling interval.  Correlational analysis indicated positive associations between flower abundance and Lepidopteran abundance (r2=0.480), Lepidopteran abundance and ROWs width (r2=0.455), and flowering species richness and Lepidopteran species richness (r2=0.515).  Pipe zone-border zone concepts and Integrated Vegetation Management practices provide mechanisms for managers to reduce mechanical vegetation maintenance (e.g., periodic mowing) and stabilize high-quality habitat for pollinators predominantly using through conservation application of selective herbicides.  Analysis of native bee data and experimental herbicide treatments are forthcoming to examine pollinator response to vegetation management strategies for pipeline ROWs.  Pipeline ROWs already contribute important pollinator habitat to the region and the potential for greater positive change through modified vegetation management practices is promising.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 2:40pm - 3:00pm CST