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Pollinator Biology and Conservation

Course Description

Pollinators are critically important to global ecosystems. Many flowering plants, including crops and rare wild plants, are dependent on insects and other animal pollinators for successful reproduction. This course will explore the diversity of pollinators, from relatively well-known honey bees to wild bee species and non-insect pollinators such as bats and hummingbirds. Participants will gain an understanding of floral morphology, evaluate threats to pollinators and what can be done to foster healthy pollinator communities and research and implement a Pollinator Conservation Project (PCP) that involves creating a pollinator garden or submitting a pollinator-focused research paper, lesson plan, or grant application. This is a Miami University online course that occurs in Dragonfly’s web-based learning community.

Course Themes and Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students in this course will:

  • Compare and contrast differing flower structures as they relate to pollinator morphology/behavior.
  • Evaluate the value of insect pollination for economically important plants such as squashes, apples, almonds, and more.
  • Identify common bee groups including leaf-cutter bees, bumble bees, honey bees, masked bees, and more– as well as other non-bee pollinators
  • Assess threats to pollinators, including pesticides, habitat loss, and climate change
  • Prepare and design a Pollinator Conservation Plan, involving creation of a pollinator garden or submission of a pollinator-focused research paper, lesson plan, or grant application.

Learning Resources & Text

Mader, E., Shepherd, M., Vaughan, M., Hoffman Black, S., & LeBuhn (2011). Attracting native pollinators: Protecting North America’s bees and butterflies: the Xerces Society guide. Storey Pub., North Adams, MA.

In addition, several categories of readings are provided from professional journals and textbooks. Students also are expected to find and share articles using the Miami University Library.


This graduate course is open to educators, professionals and community members from all disciplines and settings from traditional and informal teachers and school administrators to naturalists and professionals from both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Students taking this course may be master’s degree students in the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) and Global Field Program (GFP). To enroll in this graduate course, students must have a bachelor’s degree and be 18 years or older.

Important reminder for graduate students in the Advanced Inquiry Program and Global Field Program: This course is an elective that, due to the specialized content matter, does not contribute toward your degree requirements. However, your grade in this course will affect your cumulative GPA in the program. This is a 2-credit letter grade course.

How to Register

Current master’s students register for the Pollinators course in Banner the same way as registering for Core courses. For Spring Term, Pollinators will be offered with CRN 85571. This course is offered each Spring Semester, typically starting in late January and ending in mid-May. If you are interested in registering for this course as a non-degree-seeking student, please visit our Continuing Graduate Status (CGS) and How to Apply webpage for further information.