Sullivan said the mixture of engineers and ecologists will allow the team to look at both the ecological and the transportation/engineering sides of this type of habitat creation. “We want to create habitats that are good for pollinators but also safe for humans,” she said.
Sullivan is a plant community ecologist who studies how plants move, or disperse, within and between habitats and factors that influence this movement. Her research is focused specifically on grasslands, which are an important habitat for many pollinators. She brings not only the ecological expertise to the project but also experience working on projects to create pollinator habitats along roadways in Iowa. As a postdoctoral fellow, she also created a web app for grassland habitats in Minnesota that allows land managers to easily incorporate connectivity analysis into their management decisions. She looks forward to applying her knowledge, experiences, and approaches to the study of pollinator habitats along Missouri roadways.
Connectivity is the extent to which organisms can disperse between habitat patches on a landscape, explained Lauren. “What is really cool is that we can take our basic understanding of connectivity and dispersal and apply it to determining how connected these roadway habitats could be given the dispersal of different organisms.”