For your browsing pleasure, here is the first in a couple of summary posts on the bees collected for the 2008 Region 5 Refuge pilot bee survey. We will send an additional post on the community analyses in which we will examine the relationship of fields within each refuge to those of other refuges.
You can peruse the summary tables of data here.
You all generated quite a nice list considering the rather modest amount of sampling that went into the project. There were at least 79 species found across 1753 individuals collected. To put this into perspective: In all of Region 5 there are probably around 600 species. However, many of those are spring species and would not be expected in a fall survey. For example, in this fall collection there is only 1 Andrena species and there are no Nomada or Osmia species at all...all genera that are abundant and represented by many species in the spring.
As another comparison, a survey was recently carried out at a location along a powerline near the Chestnut Land Trust in Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay. A group of USDA researchers put out 200 bowls and tended them for an entire month in May, generating about 80 species and 8600 individuals in just that one spot. There are, in general, many bees out there and much to be learned.
Another realization here is that, again despite only a small effort, a number of new state records were generated. This is another sign that much remains to be accomplished in our understanding of even the most basic information about our bee diversity--a state's list of species present. Note that most of those new records came from coastal dune sites. For bees, and likely for other groups of insects too, coastal dunes and, in general, deep sand sites are places of endemism. Thus coastal refuges and sandhill habitats harbor a high proportion of the region's rare bees. We are learning that it's not just Piping Plover, Beach Heather, and scattered Tiger Beetles that are restricted to these habitats, but many other species as well. It would be interesting to compare dune and deep sand habitats to other regional habitats and calculate the number of endemics in each...the sandy habitats are likely to be unmatched. By extension, the many coastal refuge units also become major players in retaining regional biodiversity. By further extension, these same sites are among the most likely to suffer extirpations if sea level rise were to occur quickly. Does knowing that change the management strategies of the Service?
Thanks again for your participation and please do not hesitate to e-mail us with any questions, requests, suggestions, etc. (Leo: firstname.lastname@example.org, Sam: email@example.com)
A blog that will gradually post the results of a study of the bees found by refuge biologists and volunteers using bee bowls traps on USFWS Region 5 National Wildlife Refuges in the Northeastern United States.