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Title: Pollen Protein: Lipid Macronutrient Ratios May Guide Broad Patterns of Bee Species Floral Preferences
Pollinator nutritional ecology provides insights into plant–pollinator interactions, coevolution, and the restoration of declining pollinator populations. Bees obtain their protein and lipid nutrient intake from pollen, which is essential for larval growth and development as well as adult health and reproduction. Our previous research revealed that pollen protein to lipid ratios (P:L) shape bumble bee foraging preferences among pollen host-plant species, and these preferred ratios link to bumble bee colony health and fitness. Yet, we are still in the early stages of integrating data on P:L ratios across plant and bee species. Here, using a standard laboratory protocol, we present over 80 plant species’ protein and lipid concentrations and P:L values, and we evaluate the P:L ratios of pollen collected by three bee species. We discuss the general phylogenetic, phenotypic, behavioral, and ecological trends observed in these P:L ratios that may drive plant–pollinator interactions; we also present future research questions to further strengthen the field of pollination nutritional ecology. This dataset provides a foundation for researchers studying the nutritional drivers of plant–pollinator interactions as well as for stakeholders developing planting schemes to best support pollinators.  more » « less
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