Landscape Simplification Modifies Trap-Nesting Bee and Wasp Communities in the Subtropics

Insects. 2020 Dec 1;11(12):853. doi: 10.3390/insects11120853.


(1) Background: Landscape simplification is a major threat to bee and wasp conservation in the tropics, but reliable, long-term population data are lacking. We investigated how community composition, diversity, and abundance of tropical solitary bees and wasps change with landscape simplification (plant diversity, plant richness, distance from forest, forest cover, and land use type) and season. (2) Methods: We installed 336 timber and cob trap nests in four complex forests and three simplified orchards within the subtropical biodiversity hotspot of south-east Queensland, Australia. Trap nests were replaced every season for 23 months and all emergents identified. (3) Results: We identified 28 wasp species and 13 bee species from 2251 brood cells. Bee and wasp community composition changed with landscape simplification such that large, ground-nesting, and spider-hunting species were present in all landscapes, while those with specialist resource requirements and (clepto) parasitoids were present only in complex landscapes. Abundance and diversity of bees and wasps were unaffected by landscape simplification but increased with rainfall. (4) Conclusions: This study highlights the need for multi-year studies incorporating nuanced measures such as composition with a focus on functional diversity to detect changes bee and wasp populations.

Keywords: Hymenoptera; bee decline; bee hotels; countryside; habitat complexity; habitat loss; land use change.