Pollinator community around culturally significant focal plants of the Flathead Indian Reservation

Authors: Kendra Melanson*, Clark University , Janene Lichtenberg, Salish Kootenai College
Topics: Environmental Science, Indigenous Peoples, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: pollination, indigenous people, culturally significant plants, bumble bees, Bombus
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study investigates the relationship between potential pollinators and several plants that are important to the culture of the Flathead Indian Reservation (FIR) of Western Montana. Many plants are culturally significant to the Native peoples of the FIR and are modernly used for medicinal, nutritional, and spiritual purposes (Hart 1996). Focusing on a selection of several focal plants that are of tremendous value to the natives on the FIR, this study investigates which probable pollinators, particularly species of bumble bees (Bombus), frequent these plants. Montana has the widest variety of Bombus in the nation, with 28 species (Dolan et. al 2017). Like many other bee species, bumble bees are currently under threat in Montana and throughout world. Many questions remain related to Bombus spp. and their roles in ecosystems. Bumble bee capture surveys, habitat surveys and 15-minute focal plant observations were conducted at 9 different study sites across the FIR. Thirteen different species of Bombus were found on 14 different focal plant species throughout these surveys. The cultural significance of these plants is vast, and these results show that the Bombus community and the culturally significant plants on the FIR have a mutually dependent relationship.

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