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. 2013 Jan 8;110(2):555-8.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1208682110. Epub 2012 Dec 24.

Resource Diversity and Landscape-Level Homogeneity Drive Native Bee Foraging

Free PMC article

Resource Diversity and Landscape-Level Homogeneity Drive Native Bee Foraging

Shalene Jha et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. .
Free PMC article


Given widespread declines in pollinator communities and increasing global reliance on pollinator-dependent crops, there is an acute need to develop a mechanistic understanding of native pollinator population and foraging biology. Using a population genetics approach, we determine the impact of habitat and floral resource distributions on nesting and foraging patterns of a critical native pollinator, Bombus vosnesenskii. Our findings demonstrate that native bee foraging is far more plastic and extensive than previously believed and does not follow a simple optimal foraging strategy. Rather, bumble bees forage further in pursuit of species-rich floral patches and in landscapes where patch-to-patch variation in floral resources is less, regardless of habitat composition. Thus, our results reveal extreme foraging plasticity and demonstrate that floral diversity, not density, drives bee foraging distance. Furthermore, we find a negative impact of paved habitat and a positive impact of natural woodland on bumble bee nesting densities. Overall, this study reveals that natural and human-altered landscapes can be managed for increased native bee nesting and extended foraging, dually enhancing biodiversity and the spatial extent of pollination services.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Colony-level mean foraging distances with respect to local floral species richness (within patch) and landscape floral cover CV (among patches). The lighter-colored dots represent graphical foreground. Data are untransformed, and overlapping points have been jittered horizontally for clarity. The plane illustrates the significant variables of the LME model (Table 1).
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Hierarchical partitioning showing independent effects of habitat composition variables on nesting density, expressed as the percentage of the total variance explained. Percentage of variation explained at the (A) 250-m and (B) 2-km spatial scales. The black bars indicate a positive effect, and the white bars indicate a negative effect based on linear regression. CR, crop; GR, grassland; OR, orchard; BA, bare ground; IM, impervious (concrete); OA, oak woodland–chaparral; RI, riparian forest. The asterisk denotes significance at the P < 0.05 level.

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