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Individual Highlight

Strangers at their Doors: Hawaiian Plants and Non-native Pollinators

Photo of A honey bee. honey bee. : Forest Service researchers spent 576 hours observing potential pollinators for eight native plant species in a Hawaiian tropical dryland system. Non-native insects, particularly the western honeybee (Apis mellifera), were the majority of the flowers' visitors. No currently existing native pollinators were found for an endangered mint, Stenogyne angustifolia.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Liang, Christina 
Research Location : Hawaii island
Research Station : Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1013


The Forest Service is examining the interactions between invasive predators, pollinators (native and non-native) and native plant reproduction in a tropical dryland ecosystem in Hawai'i. Forest Service researchers conducted flower visitation observations, seed set treatments and surveys of pollinators and predators to assess existing pollination of native plant species. Primary visitors for our focal native plant species are predominantly non-native insect species. The non-native honeybee (Apis mellifera) is an important visitor for the majority of plants and has a central role in this limited pollination network. The number of potential pollinator species is low for both endangered and common plant species; however, the endangered plant species are visited much less frequently. The researchers found no extant native pollinators for the endangered mint, Stenogyne angustifolia, and visitation was performed only rarely by one non-native insect species at our study site.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Northern Arizona University
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture National Wildlife Research Center
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa