The influence of garden flowers on pollinator visits to forest flowers: comparison of bumblebee habitat use between urban and natural areas

  • Shoko NakamuraEmail author
  • Gaku Kudo


As garden plants in urbanized environments provide considerable diverse floral resources to pollinators, the availability of floral resources has changed as a consequence of increasing urbanization. Although pollinators often forage at different sites in response to spatiotemporal variations in floral resources, little is known about the differences in pollinator foraging between urban and nearby natural environments. We monitored the foraging patterns of bumblebees in open and forest habitats in two areas with and without urban gardens with respect to flowering phenology and the availability of floral resources in each habitat. Floral richness in the forest habitat decreased as the season progressed, with a peak in late spring to early summer, whereas floral resources in the open habitat increased late in the season. Thus, floral resources in the open habitat could compensate for seasonal declines in forest floral resources. In the urban area, which contained green gardens, floral richness in the open habitat was much greater than that in the forest habitat. This resulted in a relatively high density of bumblebees in the open habitat in the urban area compared with those in the natural area, which lacked green gardens. Visitation frequency of bumblebees to forest flowers decreased as the floral richness of the open habitat increased. These results suggest that although urban gardens are important foraging sites for pollinators, the high attractiveness of garden flowers reduces pollinator visits to wildflowers in nearby forests. This may result in reduced pollination of native flowers.


Floral resource Flowering phenology Forest Bumblebee Foraging habitat Garden flower 



G. K. received grant from JSPS KAKENHI grant Number 15H02641, and S. N. was funded by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. We appreciate Teruyoshi Nagamitsu for his critical comments and suggestions. Takuya Kubo helped in the statistical analysis, Yukihiro Amagai supported GIS analysis, and Rika Hirano supported in data collection. The Botanical Garden of Hokkaido University allowed additional flower sampling. Lastly, we would like to express our gratitude to the warm understanding of the residents in the study areas.

Supplementary material

11252_2019_891_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (21 kb)
Online Resource 1 List of floral species visited by bumblebees (XLSX 20 kb)
11252_2019_891_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (2.1 mb)
Online Resource 2 Table S1 Classification of floral morphology, nectar and pollen volume per floral unit, and references. Table S2 Time (min) spent on bumblebee observation for each observation method. Table S3 Differences in individual floral traits of plant species between the urban and natural areas and between the open and forest habitats. Fig. S1 Bumblebee phenology in the urban area in 2011 (a) and 2012 (b), and in the natural area in 2011 (c) and 2012 (d). W: Worker, Q: Queen, M: Male, Beat: Bombus beaticola moshkarareppus Sakagami et Ishikawa, Yezo: B. yezoensis Matsumura, Pse: B. pseudobaicalensis Vogt, Div: B. diversus tersatus Smith, Ter: B. terrestris (L.), Hypo: B. hypocrita sapporoensis Cockerell, Hypno: B. hypnorum koropokkrus Sakagami et Ishikawa, Ard: B. ardens sakagamii Tkalců. Fig. S2 Seasonal changes in the visitation frequency of bumblebees to individual plant species in the forest habitat (a) and open habitat (b) in the urban area and in the forest habitat (c) and open habitat (d) in the natural area, and the relationship between visitation frequency within a focal habitat and floral richness in another habitat in the forest habitat (e) and open habitat (f). Each circle or triangle represents visitation frequency in each term and year. Refer the caption of Fig. 2 for details of flower abundance categorization (H, M, and L). (PDF 2.06 mb)
11252_2019_891_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (37 kb)
Online Resource 3 Table of floral traits of each species (XLSX 36 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Environmental ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Forestry and Forest Products Research InstituteForest Research and Management OrganizationIbarakiJapan
  3. 3.Faculty of Environmental Earth ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

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