Pollinators

Science Center Objects

USGS scientists are studying how biofuel crops may be affecting pollinators, especially in the Northern Great Plains. Changes in land use from bee-friendly crops to biofuel crops likely impact pollinators.

Each project below is associated with a type of energy production or transmission. Types of energy production or transmission are represented by the following icons:

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Biofuel

Abbreviations used in project descriptions are defined on the Energy and Wildife Abbrevations page.

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Designing Conservation Seeding Mixes

Science Center: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

USGS scientists are working with the USDA to quantify the benefits of USDA conservation lands for supporting healthy pollinator populations in the northern Great Plains. One tool that can assist USDA managers is the USGS developed Pollinator Library. This library is a repository of insect visitation and environmental and land-use information that can assist land managers with conservation seeding mix designs for land enhancement programs. This tool may be useful for restoring habitat for pollinators in areas where marginally productive lands are retired from biofuel crop production.

 

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Evaluating Bioenergy Opportunities in the Southwest

Science Center: Southwest Biological Science Center

USGS is collaborating with the USDA Arid Land Agricultural Research Center and Ohio University regarding the potential for agave biofuel production to add to our national bioenergy portfolio in marginally productive lands. Agave may represent a highly efficient biofuel, even under nonirrigation conditions, but the ecosystem consequences of this development on drylands, including habitat and wildlife, remain unknown. The project aims to explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of biofuel production in the Southwest as an alternative energy source and strategy.

 

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Impact of Biofuel Crop Production on Pollinators in the Northern Great Plains

Science Center: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

USGS, in cooperation with USDA, is quantifying how recent reductions in USDA conservation program enrollments affect pollinator habitat. Scientists are also developing a risk assessment model to identify what portions of the northern Great Plains have undergone the most substantial land-use changes due to biofuel crop development while also supporting the highest density of commercial beekeepers. This study addresses several of the key information needs to better understand, minimize, and recover from pollinator losses.

 

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Taxonomic Characterization of Bee Pollen Foraging

Science Center: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

USGS scientists recently developed a genetic sequencing technique to identify pollen collected by foraging bees. The scientists are now using this technique to understand how land-use change and biofuel crop development affect forage for pollinators in agroecosystems by modeling historic forage patterns based on pollen collected from museum specimens of the federally endangered rusty patched bumble bee. This information can be used to evaluate specific plants that can be included in conservation and restoration programs for pollinators.

Conservation seed wildflowers in South Dakota

Conservation seed wildflowers in South Dakota. (Credit: Thomas Tran, NRCS. Public domain.)