Feb 15, 2007

Effect of human disturbance on bee communities in a forested ecosystem

Conservation Biology : the Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology
Rachael WinfreeClaire Kremen


It is important for conservation biologists to understand how well species persist in human-dominated ecosystems because protected areas constitute a small fraction of the Earth's surface and because anthropogenic habitats may offer more opportunities for conservation than has been previously thought. We investigated how an important functional group, pollinators (bees; Hymenoptera: Apiformes), are affected by human land use at the landscape and local scales in southern New Jersey (U.S.A.). We established 40 sites that differed in surrounding landscape cover or local habitat type and collected 2551 bees of 130 species. The natural habitat in this ecosystem is a forested, ericaceous heath. Bee abundance and species richness within forest habitat decreased, not increased, with increasing forest cover in the surrounding landscape. Similarly, bee abundance was greater in agricultural fields and suburban and urban developments than in extensive forests, and the same trend was found for species richness. Particular species groups that might be expected to show greater sensitivity to habitat loss, such as floral specialists and bees of small or large body size, did not show strong positive associations with forest habitat. Nevertheles...Continue Reading

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Apis mellifera
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