Effects of fire, deer pressure, and plant genetic diversity on the management of early successional habitats, with a focus on Lupinus perennis (blue lupine) and its pollinators 

Savannas, where only scattered trees grow amongst herbaceous vegetation, are among the most highly threatened habitats in the eastern temperate zone of North America. The sundial or blue lupine (Lupinus perennis) is often an indicator of high-quality savannas. In addition to being a species of conservation concern itself, lupine’s decline has been linked to the decline of several insects of conservation concern that feed on it. Understanding the management needs and levels of genetic diversity of lupine is of critical importance for the conservation of this species, the pollinators that service this plant, the insects that depend on lupine, and North American savanna communities in general.

We are investigating the roles of fire management, deer pressure and plant genetic diversity on the health of lupine and its pollinators in Pennsylvania. Our specific objectives include:

(1) assess the effect of prescribed fire on lupine population vigor, habitat and associated insect pollinators

(2) determine how reduced white-tailed deer abundance affects lupine population vigor, habitat and pollinator communities

(3) quantify the genetic diversity of Pennsylvania’s large and small lupine populations and characterize the degree of genetic differentiation among them

… to aid in our goal of conserving Lupinus perennis.

Bombus spp. landing on blue lupine.

Are you interested in collecting samples for this project?

Isabella Petitta (she/her) is a research technician in the López-Uribe Lab interested in wild pollinator ecology and conservation. Any interest in this project can be directed to Isabella – irp5068@psu.edu