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Bee Assemblages in Managed Early-Successional Habitats in Southeastern New Hampshire

Milam, Joan C., Litvaitis, John A., Warren, Alena, Keirstead, Donald, King, David I.
Northeastern naturalist 2018 v.25 no.3 pp. 437-459
Sylvilagus transitionalis, bees, color, ecological function, flowers, fluorescence, gravel pits, habitats, landscapes, natural history, protocols, rapid methods, species diversity, traps, New Hampshire
We examined the abundance and species richness of bees at 10 sites managed for Sylvilagus transitionalis (New England Cottontail Rabbit) in southeastern New Hampshire. In 2015, we sampled bees using a streamlined bee-monitoring protocol (SBMP) developed for rapid assessment of bee communities, and in 2015 and 2016, we employed bee bowls (modified pan traps) painted fluorescent blue, yellow, or white and filled and with soapy water that were intended to mimic flower colors and attract bees. We compared the abundance of all species combined and species richness among management treatments (clearcuts, old fields, and gravel pits), patch area, and time since management action. We also compared the combined captures from bee bowls to relative abundance indices from the SBMP, as well as flower abundance and richness. Neither captured bee abundance nor species richness differed among management treatments; however, by removing a possible outlier, both abundance and richness were greatest in gravel pits compared to other habitats. There was no correlation between bee captures and the SBMP, and no correlation between captures and flower abundance or floral diversity. Our study demonstrates that habitats managed for New England Cottontail support a diverse assemblage of native bees. Gravel pits are potentially valuable targets for native bee conservation, but old fields and clearcuts offer alternatives in landscapes without gravel pits. Native bees are essential to support ecosystem function, and understanding their distribution and natural history is important to develop habitatmanagement efforts that benefit not only bees but multiple species of conservation concern within early-successional habitats.