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Individual Highlight

Do Insects Visit and Pollinate Tanoak Flowers

Photo of Snapshot : The knowledge is key for informed conservation of the species

Principal Investigators(s) :
Wright, Jessica W. 
Research Location : Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District lands in the Coast Range of California
Research Station : Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 98


Tanoak flowers are highly susceptible to Sudden Oak Death but little is known about the basic ecology of the species. For example, are tanoak flowers insect- or wind- pollinated Tanoak conservation requires an understanding of the basic ecological genetics of the species and their pollination biology, which influences the size of local genetic neighborhoods and thereby defines conservation priorities.

In 2009, citizen scientist volunteers conducted floral observations at three different sites in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District lands in the Coast Range of California. They observed 148 insect visitors to tanoak flowers during 11.5 hours of observation in 65 observation periods. The data that were obtained show that insects visit tanoak flowers.

This information, along with a parallel pollinator exclusion study conducted by the University of California at Berkeley suggests that tanoak flowers are predominately insect pollinated, but that some level of wind pollination is likely. Sudden Oak Death is decimating Tanoaks. The research reveals a diverse community of insects visiting tanoak flowers that may be dependent on tanoak as a food source; therefore, they are also at risk due to the loss of trees from Sudden Oak Death.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • University of California at Berkeley

Program Areas