The significant contributions made by pollinating insects to the prosperity and health of our many ecosystems are well known among both the public and the scientific community (Novacek, 2008; Smith, 2016). Not only are the pollination services provided by these insects fundamental for the proliferation of some of our most prized cultivated crops, but nearly 90% of all wild plants depend on insects to survive and flourish (Ashman et al., 2004; Hoshiba and Sasaki, 2008). Nonetheless, as our land-use patterns have been altered over time, some pollinating insects have continued to decline both in abundance and diversity due, in part, to reductions in floral resources that provide sufficient nectar and pollen (Foley et al., 2005). One possible way to help mitigate these threats is to increase the use of plants that enhance pollinator health by generating research-based information that is easily attainable by the public. In a recent survey, 46% of consumers purchased pollinator-friendly plants for their home landscape, noting their enthusiasm for both aiding in pollinator health and their attractive landscape qualities (Campbell et al., 2017). Information regarding gardening and landscape use plants is available in many formats from phone-based applications, websites, webinars, and face-to-face classes (Varlamoff et al., 2002). Depending on the demographics of the community, various sources are relied on more heavily than others. Earlier studies have shown, for example, that information from Internet sources was less commonly acquired by participants over age 61 years than by younger survey participants. Notably, when these survey participants were asked what the most important attribute was in accessing and retaining gardening information, convenience and interaction ranked the highest (Meyer and Foord, 2008).
Creating opportunities for the public to conveniently access educational materials on pollinators and pollinator-friendly plants with an interactive tone can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Through encouragement and employment of enthusiast community members and apprentice naturalists, enormous strides can be made toward the sustainability of our pollinators. For example, volunteer-based citizen science groups have been invaluable contributors to an array of data scientists rely on every day due to the widespread use of mobile computing, large-scale and free computational power, and the personal satisfaction gained from participating in ongoing research (Bonney et al., 2009; Silvertown, 2009). Remarkably, data collected through an online database for bird observations (eBird; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY) has been used in at least 90 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on a wide range of ornithological topics (Bonney et al., 2014). Surely, the most effective tool for public acknowledgment and comprehension of scientific information is through cooperation. Therefore, the objectives of our survey were to gauge overall MG desire to learn more about pollinators and pollinator-friendly plants, to assess both perceived and tested knowledge of common pollinators and their associated floral preferences, and to determine the preferred means of accessing educational material about landscape use plants that will aid in supporting our pollinating insect communities.
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