Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Researchers Complete 2007 Report for Ongoing Bee Research on San Bernardino NWR
Southwest Region, December 23, 2007
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The two major projects underway on the San Bernardino NWR are an ongoing study started in the year 2000 to determine the number of bee species, their phenologies and host plant relationships at one location in the Chihuahuan Desert and a pollination study to understand the importance of specialist and generalist bees to the reproductive success of four plant species.

In general, researchers find that bees comprise the greatest number of insects (80%) at the plant species they sample, followed by Diptera (14%) and followed by wasps of several families (6%).  The 385 species presently known from this area represent the greatest bee species richness documented for any limited area in the world. 
The primary project in 2007 was the comparison of specialist and generalist pollinators on four plant species. Researchers have found specialist bee species most often visit plants that most generalist bee species also visit. Such a pattern is counterintuitive. Specialist pollinators are closely tied to the flowers of their host plant and one might expect these relationships to be highly co-dependent. What researchers are finding is the opposite, specialist pollinators occur as members of some of the most generalized pollination interactions that occur in the Chihuahuan Desert. Their project is primarily to determine the importance of these specialist bee species to their hosts, if any. The project compares the effectiveness of specialist and generalist pollinators on the same host plant and how their contributions change within and among seasons.  Researchers focus on the role of resources (rewards) offered by the plant community as a whole as one mechanism driving changes in visitation patterns of specialists versus generalists.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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