Historical changes in northeastern US bee pollinators related to shared ecological traits

Edited by May R. Berenbaum, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, IL, and approved February 1, 2013 (received for review October 24, 2012)
March 4, 2013
110 (12) 4656-4660

Abstract

Pollinators such as bees are essential to the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. However, despite concerns about a global pollinator crisis, long-term data on the status of bee species are limited. We present a long-term study of relative rates of change for an entire regional bee fauna in the northeastern United States, based on >30,000 museum records representing 438 species. Over a 140-y period, aggregate native species richness weakly decreased, but richness declines were significant only for the genus Bombus. Of 187 native species analyzed individually, only three declined steeply, all of these in the genus Bombus. However, there were large shifts in community composition, as indicated by 56% of species showing significant changes in relative abundance over time. Traits associated with a declining relative abundance include small dietary and phenological breadth and large body size. In addition, species with lower latitudinal range boundaries are increasing in relative abundance, a finding that may represent a response to climate change. We show that despite marked increases in human population density and large changes in anthropogenic land use, aggregate native species richness declines were modest outside of the genus Bombus. At the same time, we find that certain ecological traits are associated with declines in relative abundance. These results should help target conservation efforts focused on maintaining native bee abundance and diversity and therefore the important ecosystems services that they provide.

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Data Availability

Data deposition: The data reported in this paper have been deposited in the DRYAD repository, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.0nj49.

Acknowledgments

We thank all those who collected the bees used in our analyses and the museums for access to their collections, J. Pickering for maintaining www.discoverlife.org, R. T. Schuh for access to the Planetary Biodiversity Inventory database, and D. Sol and D. Cariveau for comments on the manuscript. Data capture was supported by National Science Foundation Division of Biological Infrastructure Grant 0956388 (to J.S.A.), with additional support from Robert G. Goelet and a state wildlife grant [09DEP10012AA (to D.L.W.)]. This work was also supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Spanish Education Ministry Grant EX2009-1017 (to I.B.) and a Rutgers University Pre-Tenure Career Enhancement Award (to R.W., I.B., and J.S.A.).

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Information & Authors

Information

Published in

Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Vol. 110 | No. 12
March 19, 2013
PubMed: 23487768

Classifications

Data Availability

Data deposition: The data reported in this paper have been deposited in the DRYAD repository, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.0nj49.

Submission history

Published online: March 4, 2013
Published in issue: March 19, 2013

Keywords

  1. bee declines
  2. global change
  3. pollination

Acknowledgments

We thank all those who collected the bees used in our analyses and the museums for access to their collections, J. Pickering for maintaining www.discoverlife.org, R. T. Schuh for access to the Planetary Biodiversity Inventory database, and D. Sol and D. Cariveau for comments on the manuscript. Data capture was supported by National Science Foundation Division of Biological Infrastructure Grant 0956388 (to J.S.A.), with additional support from Robert G. Goelet and a state wildlife grant [09DEP10012AA (to D.L.W.)]. This work was also supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Spanish Education Ministry Grant EX2009-1017 (to I.B.) and a Rutgers University Pre-Tenure Career Enhancement Award (to R.W., I.B., and J.S.A.).

Notes

This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

Authors

Affiliations

Ignasi Bartomeus1 [email protected]
Department of Entomology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901;
Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala SE-75007, Sweden;
John S. Ascher
Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024-5192;
Department of Biological Sciences, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117546;
Jason Gibbs
Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853;
Bryan N. Danforth
Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853;
David L. Wagner
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-3043; and
Shannon M. Hedtke
Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853;
Rachael Winfree
Department of Entomology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901;
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Notes

1
To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: [email protected].
Author contributions: I.B., J.S.A., and R.W. designed research; I.B., J.S.A., J.G., and D.L.W. performed research; B.N.D. and S.M.H. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; I.B. analyzed data; and I.B. and R.W. wrote the paper.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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    Historical changes in northeastern US bee pollinators related to shared ecological traits
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    • Vol. 110
    • No. 12
    • pp. 4431-4853

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