Field-level characteristics influence wild bee functional guilds on public lands managed for conservation
Main, Anson R.
Webb, Elisabeth B.
Goyne, Keith W.
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Throughout the Midwestern US, many public lands set aside for conservation engage in management activities (e.g., agriculture) that may act as stressors on wild bee populations. Several studies have investigated how wild bees respond to large-scale agriculture production; however, there has been limited assessment of how wild bees may be impacted by agricultural activity on public lands or how local variables may influence bee communities in these same areas. In this study, we assessed the abundance and richness of wild bee floral and nesting guilds at 30 agricultural field margins located on five Conservation Areas in Missouri. Generally, regardless of guild, bee abundance and richness was greater in field margins with more floral diversity and taller vegetation. Bee guilds responded negatively to agricultural production in Conservation Areas with fewer soil- and cavity-nesting bees collected in margins adjacent to annually cropped fields. Although fewer diet specialists were collected, specialist bee abundance and richness was greater in margins near fields that were uncropped (i.e., vegetated, but not row-cropped) during the previous year. Overall, the percentage of trees and shrubs within 800 m of study fields (i.e., "woodland") was negatively associated with abundance and richness of bees, but specifically, reduced richness of soil-nesters and diet specialists. Our findings indicate agricultural management activities on public lands may lead to decreased abundance and richness of wild bee guilds. If public lands are to be managed for species diversity, including wild bees, maintaining diverse plant communities with taller vegetation (>100 cm) near cultivated fields and/or modifying agricultural production practices on public lands may greatly improve the conservation of local bee communities. (C) 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.