How have California wild bee communities changed over the past 50 years?
The California of the 1970s is very different from the California in which we currently live due to changes in land-use, climate and the human population. Unfortunately for many insect species like bees, we have lack information on the state of populations in the past. In late 1960s and early 1970s Andrew Moldenke sampled two transects in southern and northern CA---from an oceanic island to a high elevation peak. These surveys results in over 100,000 uniquely identified pollinators and their interactions with plants. Is data provides us with a rare glimpse into pollinator community composition and the size of populations 50 years ago. It also provides an important baseline for the population size and distribution of the introduced European honey bee, which has now extensively invaded CA and the Americas.
With collaborator Ruben Alarcon (CSU Channel Islands) we are resurveying Andy's transects. Prof. Alarcon spent years digitizing the data, and together we are finding Andy's original sites and using his original methods to resurvey the pollinator communities. We will answer questions about how these communities have changed through time and what species are most vulnerable.
For more information, please see the article by the UCR press.