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Oklahoma State University

OSU professors receive U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant to support pollinators

Tue, July 12, 2016
OSU professors receive U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant to support pollinators

Oklahoma State University associate professor of integrative biology Kristen Baum and assistant professor of integrative biology Monica Papeş will receive funds from a $5.5 million U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program to help protect imperiled species.  Baum and Papeş will collaborate with the University of Texas at Austin’s Shalene Jha on a 3-year project focusing on pollinator habitat restoration in Oklahoma and Texas grasslands. 

“I think we can make the biggest difference by encouraging the use of prescribed fire and native plants to support pollinator habitat,” Baum said. 

Site selection of these lands is the first step in the process.  The collaborative effort is coordinated by the state wildlife departments in Oklahoma and Texas, and includes participation from the Oklahoma Tribes Monarch Habitat Project and Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative. 

Once the sites are selected, habitat restoration efforts will include prescribed fire and seeding with nectar/pollen plants and host plants, such as milkweed.  These activities will be monitored and evaluated.  Additionally, the project includes the development of models to predict current and future distributions for several pollinator species of conservation concern - primarily native butterflies and bees. 

Funding is provided by the USFWS’s competitive State Wildlife Grant (SWG) program and includes non-federal matching funds provided by states and their partners.  This unique initiative requires collaboration between individual states on conservation efforts. 

“Projects financed by the State Wildlife Grants program help safeguard some of our nation’s most at-risk species,” said Service Director Dan Ashe.  “By strategically funding work that supports large-scale conservation efforts, we can help protect our nation’s native wildlife and wild places while potentially preventing the listing of certain species under the Endangered Species Act.”