ODOT Vernal Pool Pollinator Project

Photo credit: Sarah Red-Laird

A collaboration between the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Bee Girl organization

by Sarah Red-Laird

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) manages 196 acres of vernal pool habitat for the purposes of wetland and listed species mitigation in Central Point, Oregon.  Vernal pools are a locally significant wetland type that supports unique plants and macro-invertebrate communities, including three state and federal protected species: vernal pool fairy shrimp ((Branchinecta lynchi), Cook’s desert parsley (Lomatium cookii) and large-flowered wooly meadowfoam (Limnanthes pumila spp. grandiflora).  This unique site is a mix of oak woodland, oak savannah and open prairie/chaparral habitat with vernal pools occurring throughout the site.  In 2015, ODOT began a partnership with the Bee Girl organization to both provide pollination services for flowering plants, and also to monitor and document pollinator diversity in this rare and special habitat.  

It has been fascinating to see which pollinators have mutually beneficial relationships with which plants.  The meadowfoam is visited by the Bombyliidae, an adorable fuzzy fly which hovers high above the flowers.  However, the honey bee seems to do most of the pollination work, she really dives into the flower and rolls to and fro in the pollen.  So far one of the more popular flowers has been Collinsia grandiflora.  We’ve spotted Bombus, Halictidae, Apis mellifera, and Xylocopa all feeding on this beauty.  

For more photos and stories of our work, use the hashtag #ODOTpollinators on Instagram.