Friday, April 19, 2013

Forest Bee Diversity in Relation to Habitat and Vertical Stratification

Augochlora pura, an abundant species

       Many studies in tropical rain forests have shown that insect diversity in the canopy can differ markedly from diversity in the understory.  Surprisingly, relatively few studies have explored such diversity in temperate deciduous forests.  WIU graduate student, Jared Ruholl recently completed a study investigating differences in bee species composition between the canopy and in the understory and between early successional and oak/hickory Midwestern forest habitats.  He and his collaborator James Zweep, an undergraduate honors student,  collected 4,611 bee specimens comprised of 76 species.  Agapostemon virescens, Lasioglossum macoupinense, and L. smilacinae were associated with oak’/hickory understory, while Certina calcarata and L. versatum were associated with oak/hickory canopy.  This study is the first to document that bee diversity in Midwestern deciduous forests exhibits substantial spatial variation.  This study was conducted under the guidance and mentorship of Jared’s graduate advisor, Dr. Kenneth McCravy.
Jared Ruholl working with two  undergraduate students, Angela Walker (left) and Jamela Thompson (right)