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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Pinnacle of Bees

Authors
item Messinger, Olivia
item Griswold, Terry

Submitted to: Fremontia
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: March 20, 2002
Publication Date: October 20, 2002
Citation: MESSINGER, O., GRISWOLD, T.L. A PINNACLE OF BEES. Fremontia. 2002. 30(3-4):p.32-40

Interpretive Summary: Bee communities are a fundamental component of many ecosystems, yet few have been well studied. The characteristics of an entire bee fauna are important not only because it is the first step to efficient preservation, but also because these characteristics are necessary factors if one is to understand the complex relationships between pollinating bees and their floral resources. To document a bee community, and elucidate the dynamics of its floral relationships, we studied the bee fauna of Pinnacles National Monument in California for three years. The result was an unprecedented number of species (over 400), placing Pinnacles among the most speciose bee communities studied¿not only in the West, but throughout the world. Many bee species specialize on one or a select few flowering plant species within Pinnacles. Other biological traits: parasitic and social lifestyles, and bees with preferences for many nesting substrates were documented. Since our study was conducted over a three-year period, we were able to monitor fluctuations in both specific populations and overall diversity of bees within the monument. Our results show that bee patterns of abundance and distribution vary on many scales across years, and we suggest that this is tied to some extent to the floral resources on which they depend.

Technical Abstract: Our three-year study of Pinnacles National Monument, California demonstrates the richness of Mediterranean bee communities. We found over 400 species, with representatives of all North American bee families¿one of the highest diversities documented. A comparison of this area with other studied bee communities in North America reveals its rank with the more diverse. Several bee species represent significant range extensions. In this paper we describe this bee community, highlighting the variability both of the overall bee community across years, as well as within populations of the same species across years. We found that patterns were not consistent between years, and we raise questions as to what this implies about bee-plant host relationships. Finally, we record the plants within Pinnacles that support the most species of bees.

Last Modified: 4/23/2014
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