Changes in Wild Bee Diversity and Abundance Along an Urban-Rural Gradient, and the Physiological Characteristics that Influence Their Existence

Authors: Kristen Birdshire*, University of Colorado Denver, Christy Briles, University of Colorado Denver, Adrian Carper, University of Colorado Boulder
Topics: Environmental Science, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Animal Geographies
Keywords: wild bees, urban environment, high elevation, semi-arid
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Over a third of the world’s crops--including fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, and oilseed--require insect pollination. Reliance on the pollination services that promote these food products continues to rise due to increasing demands from our growing human population; therefore, it is imperative to understand the ecology of insect pollinators. While extensive research exists to understand pollination services in agricultural settings, fewer studies examine pollinator activity in an urban environment, and to my knowledge never from a high elevation semi-arid environment. My study demonstrates different pollinator assemblages in 12 sites along an urban-rural gradient in Denver, Colorado, USA, and hypothesizes that bees thriving in an urban landscape will be smaller-bodied and have ecologically generalized characteristics (e.g., polylectic and eusocial) than rural bees, which are hypothesized to exhibit more specialized traits (e.g., oligolectic and solitary). Local and landscape site characteristics were defined using ArcGIS, and characteristics from collected bees will be correlated with the landscape classifications to demonstrate how increasing urban intensity allows certain bee species to prosper, while others to struggle in the urban landscape. When a positive correlation exists between the ecological features of collected bees and local and landscape habitat characteristics, those characteristics will be highlighted as effective strategies to better manage bee populations along the urban-rural gradient. In the poster, I will review current understanding of pollinator survival in different urban contexts and report on preliminary data from 1500 specimens that have been collected and identified.

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