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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BEE DIVERSITY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF HEALTHY, SUSTAINABLE BEE POLLINATION SYSTEMS

Location: Pollinating Insects-- Biology, Management and Systematics Research

Title: Documenting persistence of most Eastern North American bee species (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) to 1990-2009

Authors
item Colla, Sheila -
item Arduser, Mike -
item Ascher, John -
item Cane, James
item Deyrup, Mark -
item Droege, Sam -
item Gibbs, Jason -
item Griswold, Terry
item Hall, Glen -
item Neff, John -

Submitted to: Journal of Kansas Entomological Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 11, 2011
Publication Date: January 1, 2012
Citation: Colla, S.R., Arduser, M., Ascher, J.S., Cane, J.H., Deyrup, M.A., Droege, S., Gibbs, J., Griswold, T.L., Hall, G., Neff, J. 2012. Documenting persistence of most Eastern North American bee species (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) to 1990-2009. Journal of Kansas Entomological Society. 85(1): 14-22.

Interpretive Summary: Bees are important pollinators in most regions, but understanding their conservation status in North America is hindered by the lack of comprehensive early collections. We have tried a different approach, going through major museum collections to find which species are still being collected and which ones have not been seen in a long time. Nearly all (95%) of the 770 native bee species in eastern North America are still being found and collected. The 37 species that have not been found in the past 20 years were all rarities to begin with; they may still exist too. There has been no major bee extinction event in the eastern US and Canada over the past century.

Technical Abstract: The status of wild bees, the major group of pollinators in most biomes, has gained recognition as an important ecological and economic issue. Insufficient baseline data and taxonomic expertise for this understudied group has hindered efforts to assess the conservation status of the majority of wild bee species. To more objectively address their current conservation status, we drew upon museum collections and the expertise of melittologists to compile a complete list of bee species for eastern North America, discriminating those which have and have not been detected during the past 20 years. The vast majority (95% of over 770 eastern North American bee species) have been found again, at least once since 1990. The remaining 37 species were rarely collected before 1990 as well. Some may truly be at risk (or lost). Others are undoubtedly data deficient due to inadequate knowledge of their biologies or hosts, or the geographic regions or local habitats where they occur. Distributional and ecological patterns among these missing species are discussed. Most were recorded in the region only from peripheral areas or areas known to be undersampled by recent collectors, such as the southeastern United States. Others are characterized by specialized life histories or they cannot be identified routinely in the absence of taxonomic revisions. Clearly, most eastern North American bee species have persisted until recent times, with no evidence of widespread recent extinctions. An absence of well-documented global extinctions of bees does not warrant complacency regarding pollinator conservation, as our qualitative method does not lend itself to documenting range contractions, range fragmentation, or declines in abundance and species richness in local bee communities.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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