Master of Science (MS)
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mosquito spray; plant reproduction; pollinators; wildland-urban interface; naled
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Degraded pollinator habitat may have far-reaching consequences for recovery of imperiled flowering plant populations. Studies indicate that broad-spectrum insecticides used in mosquito abatement are detrimental to non-target invertebrates, including pollinators. A decline in efficient pollinators can reduce plant fitness by decreasing reproductive output and constraining genetic diversity, a challenge for rare plants.
In 2015, I monitored flower visitation and fruit set of three imperiled plant species throughout protected areas on three islands in The Lower Florida Keys. These islands consist of conservation land fragmented by intermittently dispersed residential neighborhoods that seasonally spray insecticides for mosquito control. Flowers open at treatment sites had decreased flower visitor activity following insecticide applications, but only species that require invertebrate agents for pollen transfer had significantly reduced fruit set. Implications of mosquito insecticides near conservation lands may pose immediate threats to invertebrate pollinators and flowering plants that require pollinators for reproduction, although long-term threats to genetic diversity are unknown for automatic self-pollinating species.
Harris, Brittany M., "Pesticides and Pollination of Imperiled Plants of the Lower Florida Keys" (2016). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2548.