2020 Mentors and Projects
Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Nicole Miller-Struttmann, Ph.D.

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Nicole Miller-Struttmann, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Webster University

Research Interests
• Ecology and evolution of species interactions
• Responses to environmental change
• Plant-pollinator interactions

The role of nonnative plants in supporting common vs. declining bumble bee species in the St. Louis region. Miller-Struttmann is an Assistant Professor at Webster University studying plant-pollinator interactions with a focus on bumble bees, and how these interactions are being altered in an increasingly changing world. Human-modified landscapes dominate the globe, indicating that the success of conservation efforts relies heavily on landowners. However, many landowners are unfamiliar with the natural vs. introduced status of the plants they choose to grow in their yards, leading to a bias toward cultivated or nonnative taxa. These taxa may act as selective filters favoring generalized herbivores and pollinators over those with narrower diets. For instance, bumble bees with narrower diets are declining, suggesting that they may be less likely to integrate novel plants into their diet. This bias would favor generalized pollinators and may, in turn, reduce native plant reproductive success. This study will determine the role of nonnative plants in supporting common vs. declining bumble bee species in the St. Louis region. Using observations by citizen scientists freely available through iNaturalist, we will test the prediction that declining bumble bee species are less generalized in foraging behavior than common species. This project will involve (1) working with citizen scientists to track plant-bumble bee interactions on their land and (2) identifying plants and bumble bees to species using taxonomic keys and plant lists for each location.

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