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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research » Research » Research Project #432976

Research Project: Osmia lignaria: Strategies to Ensure and Enhance the Native Bee’s and Relatives’ Role in Pollination of Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems

Location: Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research

Project Number: 2080-21000-019-008-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 15, 2017
End Date: Oct 14, 2022

The ability to pollinate crops and the decline of pollinators is a global concern. For food security, use of additional pollinator species is needed, requiring methods for economically viable and environmentally sustainable production. This proposal seeks to develop strategies that will ensure and enhance the role of the blue orchard bee (BOB) and its relatives in agricultural and natural ecosystems pollination. 1. Assess the status of current populations of BOBs and associated pollinators as compared to previous longitudinal research and correlate with factors that affect bee health. a. Gain genomic information on BOBs (genome, population genetics, microbiome) for bees from different regions to assess genetic diversity, effective population size, population divergence, and adaptive response to changing environmental conditions. b. Compare community biodiversity status in previously surveyed areas and areas with known illicit nest trapping or other potential stress factors, to determine the impact on pollinator community structure and the population genetics of BOBs c. Correlate the levels of stress factors (pathogens, parasitoids, pesticide exposures) and environmental changes (host-plant successions, climate change, land use practices) to changes in pollinator communities. d. Provide data to inform federal and state land managers and regulators on the status of Osmia and other native bee populations. 2.Develop best management practices (BMPs) for environmentally sustainable production and use of BOBs. a. Delivery of Best Management Practices (BMPs) to Osmia bee keepers. b. Develop criteria by which BOB purchases can be identified as Eco-Friendly by consumers and educate public/home gardeners on benefits of purchasing BOB’s produced under environmental sustainable protocols.

For this grant, the studies will make use of historical data and specimens from collections from Utah and California, that represent both protected areas (National Parks) and other areas that may have had disturbance (Forest Service lands, and agricultural settings). These sites will be revisited and sampled using nest-trapping, netting, and bowl traps, with proper permits and permissions. A comparative analysis of biodiversity in the genus Osmia will be made, with focus on the Blue Orchard Bee. Samples will be collected for genetic analysis of the bees, their microbiome, and pathogens. Taxonomic information will also be captured. Effects of stress factors (pesticides, parasitoids, pathogens) and environmental factors (land use changes, host plant succession, climate change) will be correlated to changes in species distributions in the various regions, as part of longitudinal studies. From the population genetic analyses, differences in populations and correlations with behavioral and phenology will be made. Pesticide analysis will be done in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The microbiome analysis will be done in collaboration with a scientist at University of California (UC), Riverside. The genetic analyses will be done in collaboration with a scientist at Utah State University (USU). If needed, a genome for Osmia lignaria propinqua will be made (current efforts by an ARS scientist in Logan, Utah, are in progress with North Dakota State University and ARS researchers in Fargo, North Dakota. Areas of study will include Forest Service lands on which illicit nest trapping of BOB’s has occurred. Our studies will examine the impacts of this extensive trap nesting on the biodiversity of stem-nesting bees. A formal report will be made to inform the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) of our results and findings. Best management practices for the production of BOB’s will be further refined, to enable the economically viable and environmentally sustainable production of these bees. Research will be performed on methods to enhance and allow for optimal production of BOBs. These results will be shared with the bee keepers to hopefully overcome the desire by those who perform the Illicit nest trapping in the wild areas. Efforts to develop certification for eco-friendly or environmentally sustainably produced bees will be coordinated with the Blue Orchard Bee Association. Public outreach and education will be made by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign in collaboration with USU, ARS, and the BOB Association.