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Data from: Contrasting effects of land cover on nesting habitat use and reproductive output for bumble bees


Pugesek, Genevieve; Crone, Elizabeth (2021), Data from: Contrasting effects of land cover on nesting habitat use and reproductive output for bumble bees, Dryad, Dataset,


Understanding habitat quality is central to understanding the distributions of species on the landscape, as well as to conserving and restoring at-risk species. Although it is well-known that many species require different resources throughout their life cycles, pollinator conservation efforts focus almost exclusively on forage resources. In this study, we evaluate nesting habitat for bumble bees by locating nests directly on the landscape. We compared colony density and colony reproductive output for Bombus impatiens, the common eastern bumble bee, across three different land cover types (hay fields, meadows, and forests). We also assessed nesting habitat associations for all Bombus nests located during surveys to tease apart species-specific patterns of habitat use. We found that B. impatiens nested under the ground in two natural land cover types, forests and meadows, but found no B. impatiens nests in hay fields. Though B. impatiens nested at similar densities in both meadows and forests, colonies in forests had much higher reproductive outputIn contrast, B. griseocollis tended to nest on the surface of the ground and was almost always found in meadows. B. perplexis was the only species to nest in all three habitat types, including hay fields. For some bumble bee species in this system, meadows, the habitat type with abundant forage resources, may be sufficient to maintain them throughout their life cycles. However, B. impatiens might benefit from heterogeneous landscapes with forests and meadows. Results for B. impatiens emphasize the longstanding notion that habitat use is not always positively correlated with habitat quality (as measured by reproductive output). Our results also show that habitat selection by bumble bees at one spatial scale may be influenced by resources at other scales. Finally, we demonstrate the feasibility of direct nest searches for understanding bumble bee distribution and ecology.

Usage Notes

This publication contains data and R code to perform the analyses described in the main text of this manuscript, and analyses described in Appendix S1 and Appendix S3. Please see the main text of the manuscript and the attached ReadMe file for further detail.