2005 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts
Characterizing the ecosystem service of pollination in New York City community gardens
Caitlin Bell Kevin Cox
Abstract: Ecosystem services are generally considered to be absent, or extremely limited, in urban areas. However, because people within urban areas often cultivate garden plants that may attract and retain pollinators, it is possible that the ecosystem service of pollination is supported in urban areas. We attempted to estimate the presence and value of pollination as an ecosystem service within New York City community gardens. By placing cucumber plants within gardens in the Bronx and East Harlem, NY, we were able to determine the factors that influence pollinator abundance and increased fruit yield. We chose to work with cucumber plants because they require a high load of vector-transferred pollen in order to set regular fruit. Although we attempted to manipulate pollinator abundance and cucumber yield by planting pollinator conservation areas (PCAs) within select gardens, there was no significant difference in either polliantor abundance or cucumber mass between gardens with and without PCAs. However, there was a non-significant, positive trend towards increased pollinator abundance within gardens with high numbers of flowers. Unexpectedly, this trend did not translate into increased cucumber yield. In fact, we found a significant negative relationship between the number of flowers within a garden and cucumber yield. These results suggest that the ecosystem service of pollination is not absent in New York City gardens, but is limited by competition among flowers for a finite number of pollinators.