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Citizen science improves our understanding of the impact of soil management on wild pollinator abundance in agroecosystems

Citation

Appenfeller, Logan; Lloyd, Sarah; Szendrei, Zsofia (2020), Citizen science improves our understanding of the impact of soil management on wild pollinator abundance in agroecosystems, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4qrfj6q69

Abstract

Native bees provide essential pollination services in both natural and managed ecosystems. However, declines in native bee species highlight the need for increased understanding of land management methods that can promote healthy, persistent populations and diverse communities. This can be challenging and costly using traditional scientific methods, but citizen science can overcome many limitations. In this study, we examined the distribution and abundance of an agriculturally important wild bee species, the squash bee (Eucera (Peponapispruinosa, Hymenoptera: Apidae). They are ground nesting, specialist bees that depend on cultivated varieties of Cucurbita (squash, pumpkins, gourds). The intimate relationship between squash bees and their host plants suggests that they are likely sensitive to farm management practices, particularly those that disturb the soil. In this study, citizen scientists across Michigan used a smartphone application to submit field management and bee observation data. Survey results indicated that squash bees occupy a wide geographic range and are more abundant in farms with reduced soil disturbance. Citizen science provided a cheap, effective method for examining impacts of farm management practices on squash bees and could be a valuable tool for monitoring and conserving other native pollinators.