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Yellowstone National Park Report

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Research in pollination biology has focused on the interactions between animals and the flowers they visit for food reward. However, other selective agents, including predators, seed feeders and herbivores, may affect pollination systems. Because flowers are predictable food sources for a variety of species, flowers are also reliable sites at which predators can locate flower-visiting animals. Prominent among pollinators' predators are beewolves (Philanthus spp), common sphecid wasps (Sphecidae) that prey almost exclusively on bees. My field work over three years indicates, first, that an area of approximately 50 square km surrounding a single bumblebee wolf (Philanthus bicinctus) aggregation had a low bumblebee (Bombus spp) density caused by intense predation by the wasps, and, second, that fruit set of the bumblebee pollinated western monkshood (Aconitum columbianum) was significantly lower at locations and times of bumblebee wolf activity than at control locations and times with no such predatory activity. These results indicate that predation can sometimes alter plant­pollinator interactions.