Current Projects

Photo by J. Marshman © 2021

PhD, Geography

2016 – present (ABD)
PhD in Human Geography, Wilfrid Laurier University
Dissertation Title: Bee Cities and More-Than-Human Communities: Protecting Pollinators in the Anthropocene.

Textbook Contributions

FOOD STUDIES: Matter, Meaning & Movement

Edited by David Szanto, Amanda Di Battista, and Irena Knezevic

D. Susan Willis Chan, PhD

Jennifer Marshman

The Movement of Pollen:

Pollinators, People, and the Planet

In this perspective we introduce the human-crop-bee relationship through the movement of pollen. A broad overview of pollinators and pollination is provided, with an emphasis on bees. We describe, in part, the relationship between bees and people and the three-way reciprocity that exists in the human-bee-crop connection. We distinguish between conservation of wild bee populations and the management of honeybees by beekeepers. Even though honey bees have become a symbol for conservation and environmentalism more broadly, they are not found on any species-at-risk list. Instead, it is native, wild bee species that are endangered or of concern in Canada and beyond. The pollination services of honey bees in their constructed, mobile hives, have long been thought to be critical for conventional agriculture that relies on large swathes of monocultures requiring biotic pollination. However, increasingly, even in commercial systems, the important role of wild bumble bees, solitary bees and stingless bees in crop pollination is being recognized, in some cases as more important than honey bees. In plants, genetic material is passed through pollen and a diversity of plants is reflected in the diversity of animals that pollinate them. And yet, the very food systems that need bees may be putting them in peril in a variety of ways. True reciprocity requires adjustment but provides long term sustainability to the plant systems that humans and bees alike depend on for food.

A Socio-Ecology of Pollination:

A Case Study

Our case contribution examines a socio-ecology of pollination. We explore the themes of meaning and movement in several ways. We consider how food moves/migrates and how a parallel pollen movement via pollinators occurs. For example, cucurbita crops (pumpkin and squash) are human-domesticated crops, making them incapable of thriving in the wild. These crops were moved across North America via human seed-sharing and trade routes from the crop’s centre of origin in Meso America. The spread of the crop facilitated the spread of one of its most important pollinators, the wild hoary squash bee (Eucera (Peponapis) pruinosa) that co-evolved with the crop’s wild ancestors to become a cucurbita pollen specialist. The bee’s spread into regions, like Ontario, where there are no wild cucurbita, creates an important reciprocity where the bees, the crop, and humans depend on each other for success. These movements (movement of seeds, movement of pollen) help us to understand that food is more than what we put in our mouths, and that pollination is a natural process that links us to nature and to crops in the most intimate of ways via the foods (pollen or fruit) provided by the crop that is literally taken into the body of both bees and humans.

Textbook Contribution

Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Diets
Kathleen Kevany and Paolo Prosperi, co-Editors

Dr. Paul Manning
Jennifer Marshman

Chapter Title: How conserving insect biodiversity in agroecosystems underpins sustainable diets

Abstract: Biodiversity encompasses the variety of life, measured at the genetic, species, or ecosystem level. Insects create the foundation for all ecosystems and represent a large component of the biodiversity found within agroecosystems. Though insects interfere with the capacity of human societies to produce food by consuming crops and spreading plant diseases, insects also play numerous important roles in supporting production of food for sustainable diets. In this chapter, we begin with a high-level review of the important contributions of insects to biodiversity in agroecosystems. Then, using a series of short case-studies we share how insect biodiversity supports sustainable diets through influencing the social, economic, and environmental components of sustainability. In the first, we explore the human-pollinator nexus through our understanding, interaction, and management of bees. In the second, we share how insect biodiversity supports the economic sustainability of food production through biological control of pests. An exceptionally diverse guild of insects (parasitic wasps and flies) supports this important function. We share several examples explaining how these ‘natural enemies’ help farmers avoid economic losses to pests. In the third, spanning the global north and south, we share how dung beetles underpin the environmental sustainability of diets through building soil carbon, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and suppressing pathogens and disease. We conclude by discussing some of the threats to insect biodiversity in agroecosystems, and overview the value that principles of organic production and contemporary agri-environmental policy have placed on conserving insect biodiversity now and into the future.

Textbook Contribution

Global Transformations of Food Systems for Climate Change Resilience

Preety Gadhoke, Barrett P. Brenton, Solomon Katz, Editors

Jennifer Marshman

Chapter Title: Bee Cities: Pollinators, Climate Change, and Food Security

Abstract: Human and ecological health are dependent on pollinators in myriad, interconnected ways, from providing food, fiber, and medicine, to supporting the very web of life that sustains living organisms on Earth. Pollinators are responsible for pollinating an estimated 35% of global crop volume and 90% of the flowering plants on Earth. While most global crop production happens outside of urban spaces, food production, ecosystem resilience, and urban health are inextricably linked through the services provided by pollinators. Despite good evidence of pollinator population declines due to human-induced causes such as habitat loss, pesticide use, and a changing global climate, research on the human dimensions of pollinator conservation, particularly in an urban context, is small but growing. Using a case study methodology, this chapter introduces the Bee City movement in Ontario, Canada. Bee City is a conservation engagement strategy that brings together municipal leadership with urban citizens. By embedding these efforts at the municipal level, the Bee City movement facilitates public and policy discourse through the primary criteria of habitat creation, education, and celebration. Addressing pollinator declines through municipal conservation efforts is an important intervention to ensure a healthy future for people, pollinators, and the planet. With a growing number of Bee Cities across North America there is an intentional effort to foreground pollinator health in municipal planning. With active implementation, this movement has potentially far-reaching implications from increasing interest and awareness, to the creation of pollinator habitat on municipal, private, and residential property with all the associated benefits.

Laurier Sustainability Office

Garden Stewards & Volunteer Program
*NEW* 2021 program.
Katarina Milicic
Jennifer Marshman

Recruiting & providing training and workshops for the Laurier pollinator projects including Bee Campus.

Certified Master Melittologist

Delving deeper into the study of native bee biology and ecology.