Comparing Native Bee Communities on Reconstructed and Remnant Prairie in Missouri

Principal Investigators: Joseph P. LaRose, Dr. Elisabeth B. Webb, and Dr. Deborah L. Finke

Institution and/or Affiliation: University of Missouri

Project Description:

The tallgrass prairie of North America is an imperiled ecosystem that has been the subject of considerable restoration effort and research in the past two decades. While native prairie plant species are purposely introduced during restoration, prairie invertebrates, including native bees (Anthophila), are not and must colonize from surrounding remnants. Prairie restorations may not support the same bee communities as remnant prairies because of habitat differences and dispersal limitations. We sampled native bees on reconstructed and remnant prairies in Missouri in the summers of 2016 and 2017 and compared the communities by evaluating species richness, diversity, and community composition. We detected no differences in bee species richness or diversity between reconstructions and remnants; remnants and reconstructions shared all but three of the 57 taxa observed. Community composition of bees on reconstructions was different from that of remnants because of differences in the relative abundance of taxa. Several species were associated with either reconstructed or remnant prairies. At a functional level, stem nesters were more common on reconstructed than remnant prairie. We also examined whether bee communities on reconstructions converged with those observed on remnants over time by comparing bee communities across restorations of different ages and found that reconstruction communities did not appear to be converging with remnants. Reconstructing prairie bee communities may depend on restoring soil conditions and disturbance regimes that influence bee nesting habitat.

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