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January 12, 2024

FORT ecologist Ian Pearse organized a workshop with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Jan 9-11) to develop a monitoring program for the endangered rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis). 

bumble bee perched on a bright orange flower, grassy field in the background
An endangered rusty patched bumble bee visiting a butterfly milkweed flower at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

The rusty patched bumble bee was once one of the most common bumble bees in eastern North America, but currently only maintains small populations in the upper Midwest and the Virginias.  The sharp population decline of this species since the early 2000s has led to its listing as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and has prompted scientists to establish monitoring protocols and investigate conservation measures to prevent further declines and potential extinction.

Workshop attendees included USFWS personnel, USGS scientists from other centers, USDA personnel, and many others from state, local and private groups. Participants developed shared protocols to monitor the long-term trends in endangered bumble bees and determined needs to sustain a long-term monitoring program. To learn more about the workshop and USGS science on the rusty patched bumble bee, please reach out to Ian Pearse (




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