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What is the spatial nature of bee diversity in Detroit telling us about urban socioecology?

Authors: Austin Martin*, Temple University
Topics: Animal Geographies, Urban Geography, Environment
Keywords: Urban ecology, bees, urban geography, lawns
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual Track 4
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban areas can provide havens for insect pollinator species richness and diversity. As urbanized land expands, monocultural turf grass lawns and lawn care inputs expand in tandem. Hence, the role cities play in pollinator conservation and restoration becomes increasingly relevant. Socioeconomic demographics factor into patterns of lawn care and cultivated plant diversity which in turn affects pollinator communities in ways urban ecologists are only beginning to grasp. Here I present a study in which I analyze relationships between census data and wild bee species richness and abundance. Wild bees were sampled using pan traps and netting in lawns across a socioeconomic spectrum in Metropolitan Detroit: from suburban to urban lawns. The classed aesthetics and geographies of lawn consumption play a likely role in spatial variations in the health of pollinator communities, although factors such as microclimatic conditions and surrounding floral diversity are also considered. In drawing connections between pollinator health and urban socioeconomic dynamics, these findings have potential relevant policy suggestions regarding lawn chemicals and urban planning. This socio-ecological analysis also invites discussion of concepts of non-human animal communication: do these findings give us insight into voices and perspectives of the more-than-human? Overall I put forth a unique combination of methods and perspectives spanning urban ecology and political ecology to connect structured economic dynamics, individual lawn consumption patterns, and wild bee community structure.

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