Bee community response to semiarid grassland restoration: a regional study in the Pacific Northwest, USA

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Lauren A. Smith DiCarlo, Sandra J. DeBano, Skyler Burrows

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Up to 99.9% of native North American grasslands have been degraded since European settlement, primarily due to agricultural development. Today, grasslands are a top priority for restoration as they harbor high amounts of biodiversity, contribute to climate, soil, and water stability, and provide essential habitat for many rare and endangered species. The majority of grassland studies have focused on vegetation or vertebrate responses to restoration while largely neglecting invertebrates even though invertebrates comprise the majority of grassland diversity and provide essential services such as pollination, nutrient cycling, pest control, and food for vertebrates. To study how grassland restoration impacts native bee communities, we collected data in three semiarid restored bunchgrass prairies. Our goals were threefold: 1. describe the variability and similarities within bee communities across the three superficially similar locations, 2. identify environmental variables associated with patterns within the bee communities, and 3. determine how restoration impacted the bee communities and these environmental variables. In one year, we collected 6,512 bees and identified 90 species from the three locations and identified 17,550 flowering plants to 66 species. Assessed environmental variables included measures of both nesting habitat and available forage. Initial analyses show seasonal changes within the bee and floral communities but bee composition did not differ between the three locations. Bee communities within the restored sites did not differ from degraded communities but did differ from native communities. Bee diversity did not differ between the treatments; however, bee abundance was lower in native sites compared to the restored and degraded treatments. These results will prove useful in future grassland restoration planning projects, especially if pollination of native or rare plants is desired.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program