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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #217593

Title: Variation of bee communities on a sand dune complex in the Great Basin: Implications for sand dune conservation

item Messinger, Olivia
item Griswold, Terry

Submitted to: Journal of Arid Environments
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/14/2008
Publication Date: 2/23/2010
Citation: Wilson, J.S., Messinger, O., Griswold, T.L. 2010. Variation of bee communities on a sand dune complex in the Great Basin: Implications for sand dune conservation. Journal of Arid Environments. 73:666-671.

Interpretive Summary: Sand dunes across western North America harbor rich, and often endemic, plant communities. A diverse bee population maintains these sand dune plant communities. Across the west, sand dune systems are threatened by off-highway vehicles (OHV’s). In an effort to protect sand dune environments, land managers often make portions of a dune system off limits to OHV use. In order to determine how well this management strategy protects native bee communities, we conducted a two-year study comparing bee communities on various parts of a complex of sand dunes in Dugway Proving Ground, in Tooele County, Utah. Different collecting sites, even sites within 2 km of each other, housed different bee communities. Even sites with similar habitat types maintained different bee communities. These results suggest that the strategy of setting aside only a portion of a dune system for conservation will not protect the entire bee diversity that is found on the dunes, and therefore will not ensure the vital pollination services these bees provide.

Technical Abstract: Sand dunes across the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts house rich bee communities. The pollination services these bees provide can be vital in maintaining the diverse, and often endemic, dune flora. These dune environments, however, are threatened by intense off-highway vehicle (OHV) use. Conservation efforts adopted by land managers often consist of setting aside a portion of a dune system that is off-limits to OHV use, but, little work has been done showing the extent to which this protects native bee communities. A two-year study of bee communities on a Great Basin sand dune complex in Dugway Proving Grounds located in northwestern Utah revealed low Sorenson's similarity index values between closely situated collecting plots (1 – 40 km apart). Similarity values ranged from 0.13 – 0.70 for species richness, and from 0.07 – 0.57 when similarity was weighted by abundance. Distance between plots had no significant relationship to similarity when richness and abundance were considered. These results indicate that traditional dune conservation strategies, which preserve “representative” portions of dune systems, are likely to be insufficient to protect bees and the pollination services they provide.