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Diversity and abundance of wild bees in an agriculturally dominated landscape of eastern Colorado

March 12, 2019

Agricultural intensification has resulted in loss of natural and semi-natural habitats impacting several important ecosystem services. One group of organisms that has suffered greatly are the bees and hence pollination, the supporting ecosystem service they complete. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has implemented conservation practices designed to improve habitat for pollinators in agroecosystems by paying to recover environmentally sensitive agricultural land from production, and restoring them by planting native grass mixes, pollinator-friendly legumes and wildflowers. Our study, aimed at demonstrating the efficacy of this practice, measured diversity and abundance of wild bee genera in the agricultural landscape of eastern semiarid regions of Colorado, USA, where CRP practices were implemented. Over our 3-year study, we obtained a total of 16,207 bees belonging to 51 genera. We found inconsistent differences in number of bee genera and abundance of bees in CRP fields supplemented with wildflowers compared to those with conventional grass seed mix. However, we observed only a 40–80% overlap in bee genera between fields supplemented with wildflowers and those with grass seed mixes indicating that diversity was enhanced by having both habitats. With the caveat that 3 years is a very short period to see appreciable changes, our results suggest that recovering environmentally sensitive land can strengthen pollinator populations in landscapes dominated by agricultural activities. In addition, periodic evaluation and maintenance of these recovered lands will further support the efforts towards revitalization of ecosystem services in these areas.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Diversity and abundance of wild bees in an agriculturally dominated landscape of eastern Colorado
DOI 10.1007/s10841-019-00125-1
Authors H. S. Arathi, Mark W. Vandever, Brian S. Cade
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Insect Conservation
Series Number
Index ID 70202579
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center