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Data from: Specialist foragers in forest bee communities are small, social or emerge early

Cite this dataset

Smith, Colleen; Weinman, Lucia; Gibbs, Jason; Winfree, Rachael (2019). Data from: Specialist foragers in forest bee communities are small, social or emerge early [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Individual pollinators that specialize on one plant species within a foraging bout transfer more conspecific and less heterospecific pollen, positively affecting plant reproduction. However, we know much less about pollinator specialization at the scale of a foraging bout compared to specialization at the species level. 2. In this study, we measured the diversity of pollen carried by individual bees foraging in forest plant communities in the mid-Atlantic United States. 3. We found that individuals frequently carried low-diversity pollen loads, suggesting that specialization at the scale of the foraging bout is common. Individuals of solitary bee species carried higher diversity pollen loads than did individuals of social bee species; the latter have been better studied with respect to foraging specialization, but account for a small minority of the world’s bee species. Bee body size was positively correlated with pollen load diversity and individuals of generalist (but not specialist) species carried increasingly diverse pollen loads as the season progressed, likely reflecting an increase in the diversity of flowers in bloom. Furthermore, the seasonal increase in pollen load diversity was stronger for bees visiting trees and shrubs than for bees visiting herbaceous plants. 4. Overall, our results showed that both species’ traits and community-level patterns of flowering phenology are likely to be important determinants of individual-level interactions in plant-pollinator communities.

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New Jersey