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PhD Dissertation Defense - Bethany Teeters

The Role of Resource Availability and Habitat Quality in Structuring Prairie Bee Communities

Date: Time: 9:00 am–10:00 am
Nebraska East Union Room: Columbine Room
Additional Info: NEU
Contact: Craig Allen,
Wild bees are a rich natural resource. In grasslands, they play a critical role in maintaining ecological functioning through the pollination services they provide. Grasslands, however, are among the most endangered of terrestrial ecosystems and diversity of both partners in plant-pollinator networks declines as prairie landscapes are converted to cropland. In the fragments that remain, the availability and quality of nesting and forage resources for wild bees becomes increasingly important for grassland resilience. This dissertation explores the functional composition of wild bee communities in fragmented prairies and how these communities are structured by floral resource availability, habitat quality, and the composition of the broader landscape. Overall, results indicate that the although well connected grasslands may currently serve as reservoirs of wild bees, including vulnerable species known to be declining throughout most of their former range, the pollination services that diverse suites of species provide may be restricted to this landscape. Therefore, thresholds of land cover in cropland and available forage were determined. These provide a valuable tool which can be used to inform land management and restoration decisions on a landscape scale, and to identify areas where conservation measures would be most effective for maintaining ecological function. After all, the persistence of grasslands and their biodiversity is largely dependent on maintaining and restoring ecological connections between species.

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