The UMMZ Insect Division recently acquired a collection of wild bees to add to our Apoidea holdings.
These samples were collected as part of a project to determine how wild bees make use of urban environments and how urban gardens/farms function as a habitat for wild bees. Wild bees are critically important pollinators in both agriculture and the general maintenance of wild/native plant biodiversity. Unfortunately, wild bees are experiencing wide spread declines in abundance and diversity. Much of this decline is associated with habitat loss due to human land use. Past studies have established links between this decline and agricultural intensification. While urbanization has also been implicated in habitat loss for other taxa, the effect of urbanization specifically on wild bees is less well understood. Southeastern Michigan was a great place to study wild bees in urban spaces because of the accessible urban gradient that exists from nature Reserves near Pinckney through the smaller cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti all the way to downtown Detroit. We compared the wild bee communities found in nature reserves to those found in urban gardens and farms along this gradient of increasing urban development. Our research provides evidence that urban environments can function as a suitable habitat for numerous wild bee species, but that not all species can make use of this space equally. This work was led by Chatura Vaidya, Maria-Carolina Simao, Gordon Fitch, and Paul Glaum and was based off a pilot study started by Carolina Simao and Chatura Vaidya.
The four researchers were/are graduate students here at UM. Paul Glaum recently completed his PhD with John Vandermeer and is currently working as a post-doc in Fernanda Valdovino's lab. Gordon Fitch and Chatura Vaidya are currently PhD students with John Vandermeer who are now studying pollination in the coffee growing regions of Chiapas, Mexico. Carolina Simao recently earned her Doctorate from University of Michigan, where she studied the impact of urban landscapes on wild bees. She currently works as a Program Coordinator for the IR-4 Project at Rutgers University, where she helps coordinate and communicate research on protecting pollinators within the horticulture industry. There was also a great amount of help from a number of undergraduate researchers, some of who are now on their way to their own graduate studies. Thank you to all of the urban gardeners and farmers of southeastern Michigan who allowed work in their plots. This could not have done it without their cooperation.