Washington, September 14 : A new research has suggested that roadsides could serve as nature preserves for crucial pollinators, particularly native bees.
The research was started by Jennifer Hopwood, while she was in graduate school in ecology at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
"I just became really interested in the idea that roadsides could be potential habitat for animals and could also be a haven for plant species," she said.
According to a report in Discovery News, roadsides planted with native plants hosted more than twice as many total bees and almost 50 percent more bee species than roadsides covered in non-native grasses, as indicated by findings from the study.
Hopwood collected bees from several roadside sites in Kansas that had been restored to native plants, and compared them with nearby, unrestored roadsides.
Not only did Hopwood find that native plants hosted more than twice as many bees and almost 30 more types than weedy sites, but she also found that this relationship held regardless of how many flowers were present.
"Even if there were a ton of exotic flowers, the roadsides that had native flowers in them still attracted more bees," Hopwood said.
The width of the roadside did not make a difference in Hopwood's findings, suggesting that even narrow roadsides can act as refuges for native bees.
The bees seemed to fare fine despite their proximity to speeding windshields: There were no fewer bees in plots next to heavily trafficked roads than in less-trafficked areas.
Native-planted roadsides, which are not tilled like agricultural lands, and which have more open ground than weedy roadsides, also provide good spots for native ground-nesting bees to settle in, according to Hopwood.
The findings suggest that the more than 10 million acres of roadside in the US could serve as a valuable, interconnected source of habitat for native bees, whose populations have declined in recent years.
Experts also have hopes for native bees to help with the crucial pollination of agricultural plants since honeybee numbers have crashed from colony collapse disorder.
According to Kimberly Russell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, "The idea of taking what people often refer to as junk land, and, with just a little bit of effort, creating this haven for these grassland species is a way to make a difference."
"We're going to sprawl, but if you can do these little things to bring in native species, that's a really good thing," she added.