Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level



Biological Sciences


Westerman, Erica

Committee Member/Reader

Siepielski, Adam

Committee Member/Second Reader

Joshi, Neelendra

Committee Member/Third Reader

Levine, Bill


Insects perform an essential ecological service by facilitating the pollination of crops for food production worldwide. Recent declines in diurnal bee populations threaten food security and has led to growing concerns about existent pollination methods. Pollination contributions by native nocturnal insects have been documented to occur in a variety of systems, thought to be supported by the plant’s attractant and reward system. If this is the case, pollination of flowers by nocturnal vectors may be influenced by circadian cycles of nectar production and insect activity. To test this hypothesis, we recorded insect abundance of nocturnal pollinators periodically throughout the night via insect light traps and by conducting transect surveys in a University of Arkansas apple orchard. We also measured nectar production of apple flowers (Malus domestica) over a circadian period using microcapillary tubes to determine if nectar production exhibits a circadian pattern. By testing the effect of weather and time on nectar production and insect abundance, we were then able to compare time of nectar production to time of insect abundance to determine if a synchronous relationship exists. Transect insect data were found to be significantly related to temperature and wind. Nectar production of apple flowers did not follow a circadian pattern; however, nectar was produced during the night at similar levels to diurnal nectar production. Apple flower nectar production and nocturnal insect abundance were not significantly correlated, but nectar was produced throughout the night at times when nocturnal pollinators were abundant. My findings show that apple flowers do produce nectar when nocturnal pollinators are abundant but suggest there may be an asynchronous relationship between nocturnal pollinators and apple flowers, where apple flowers produce greater amounts of nectar following high insect presence. This research provides promising insight into alternative pollination methods for the sustainment of agriculture.


Nocturnal Pollinators, Fayetteville, Noctuidae, circadian rhythm, pollination