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Food in a row: urban trees offer valuable floral resources to pollinating insects

Somme, Laurent, Moquet, Laura, Quinet, Muriel, Vanderplanck, Maryse, Michez, Denis, Lognay, Georges, Jacquemart, Anne-Laure
Urban ecosystems 2016 v.19 no.3 pp. 1149-1161
Acer pseudoplatanus, Aesculus carnea, Robinia pseudoacacia, Tilia cordata, aesthetics, amino acids, cities, ecosystems, flowers, nectar, ornamental plants, parks, phytosterols, planting, pollen, pollinating insects, polypeptides, sucrose, sugar content, trees, urban areas, urbanization, Western European region
Urbanization affects the availability and diversity of floral resources (pollen and/or nectar) for wild pollinating insects. For example, urban green areas are characterized by an abundance of ornamental plant species. Increasingly, trees are planted to improve the aesthetics of urban streets and parks. These urban trees might offer important floral resources to pollinating insects. To examine the suitability of urban trees as resources for pollinating insects, we investigated the chemical composition of pollen and nectar as well as the amount of nectar produced by the nine major insect-pollinated tree species planted in cities of Western Europe, namely Acer pseudoplatanus, Aesculus carnea, A. hippocastanum, Robinia pseudoacacia, Tilia cordata, T. x euchlora, T. x europaea, T. platyphyllos and T. tomentosa. The analyses revealed that globally the Tilia trees provide pollen with lower contents of polypeptides, amino acids and phytosterols compared with the other species. Urban tree flowers offer abundant nectar with relatively high sugar contents (0.16–1.28 mg/flower); sucrose was the predominant sugar in all nectars. The investigated tree species could therefore be considered in future city plantings.