Development of Native Pollinator Habitat within Livestock Pasture

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2018: $11,324.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2021
Grant Recipient: University of Arkansas
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Major Professor:
Dr. Neelendra Joshi
University of Arkansas


  • Animals: sheep


  • Animal Production: grazing management
  • Crop Production: pollination, pollinator habitat, pollinator health


    The research was conducted at the research farm of the USDA-ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center in Booneville, AR, where research sites with different seed-mixes were established. Six, 0.40-acre conventional plots were used for the study. Out of six plots, three plots were planted with mixture of native flowering plants and remaining three were planted with native warm season grasses. The main objective of this study was to examine the impact of grazing on seed mixes of native forb/legume/grass (FLG; and warm season grasses (WSG; equal seed mix of equal mix of Andropogon gerardi, Tripsacum dactyloides, and Sorghastrum nutans) on bees and other non-bee insects in livestock pasture in Southeastern USA. Each pasture was divided into two halves (in a split-plot design) using an electric fence in which one plot was grazed and the other plot was non-grazed. Blue vane traps and a pair of yellow and blue pan traps were used for sampling bees and other insects. Plant species composition in two types of seed mixes (FLG and WSG) was also recorded. The abundance, diversity, and evenness of bee communities and other insects were greater in non-grazed plots as compared to grazed plots. However, species richness, as measured by rates of species accumulation relative to sampling effort, was not different among treatments. Establishment of pastures using seed mixes of native forb/legume/grass and warm season grasses, respectively, was variable, with undesirable species often exceeding 50% of the plant community in both pasture types. Results show that a diverse array of bees and other insects may be found in livestock pasture systems, but that reduction in bee and insect diversity in grazed areas highlight the importance of rotational grazing regimes to allow for sufficient floral resources for pollinators at relevant scales. 

    Project objectives:

    • To examine impacts of grazing native forb and grasses on insect pollinators and beneficial arthropod community in pasture system.
    • To determine to impact of native floral enhancement on insect pollinators and beneficial arthropods in pasture ecosystems
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.