Digital Slide Show Identification Guide to Bees

Compiled mainly by Sam Droege at the USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab along with a consortium of North American bee biologists, identification guides are now available for Bees (Apidae) Part I; Bees (Apidae) Part II; Sweat Bees (Halictidae); Mining Bees (Andrenidae); and Leafcutter Bees (Megachilidae).

The guides are broken down by genus, with each having an information page followed by a page of illustrations and a distribution map. Each guide can be downloaded as a PowerPoint presentation (presentations hosted by NBII with permission from the author).

USGS Research on Pollinators

As the data and technology arm of the Biological Resources Discipline of the US Geological Survey, the NBII supports development of technology and infrastructure for the effective collection, management, and dissemination of data on pollinators and other biological entities and issues. In addition to hosting and maintaining this web site, developed in cooperation with the Ecological Society of America, here we list summaries of scientific research conducted by USGS scientists that concerns pollinator species and their habitats.

Avian (Bird) Pollinator Research
  Assessing family relationships in the broad-tailed hummingbird ( Selasphorus platycercus ). This study will use DNA analysis of tail feathers to determine whether groups of broad-tailed hummingbirds observed migrating together are family groups. This information can be used by managers to monitor levels of genetic variability in populations. Lead contact : Sara J. Oyler-McCance, USGS Rocky Mountain Center for Conservation Genetics and Systematics.
  Gender identification of white-winged doves.  Researchers are using molecular technology to validate a technique for identifying white-winged dove ( Zenaida asiatica ) gender in the field. Gender identification of white-winged doves is important in helping to determine population characteristics, especially in areas that allow hunting. Lead contact : Sara Oyler-McCance, USGS Fort Collins Science Center.
Chiropteran (Bat) Pollinator Research
  Conservation studies of long-nosed bats in New Mexico. Researchers are studying the distribution, abundance, and activity patterns of the two species of long-nosed bats in the state of New Mexico, including the lesser long-nosed bat ( Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenaea ). Lead contact : Paul Cryan, USGS Fort Collins Science Center.
  Bat species of concern: an ecological synthesis for resource managers. This project is the development of a synthesis report on 25 bat species of concern in the United States. Information will include detailed species accounts, an updated distribution GIS database, and a review of the scientific basis for bat management and conservation measures. Publication is expected in 2008. Lead contact : Tom O'Shea, USGS Fort Collins Science Center.
Arthropod (Insect) Pollinator Research
  Pollination Webs to Guide Management of Rare and Invasive Species in a Changing Climate. Badlands National Park (BNP) is home to nine plant species considered rare in South Dakota, as well as several invasive exotic plants, many of which vie for pollinator services with the rare species. The purpose of research proposed by Dr.'s Diane Larson (Research Wildlife Biologist, USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center) and Sam Droege (USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center) is to document the interaction webs that link rare and invasive plants with pollinators and, consequently, with each other. Understanding these linkages will guide management of both the rare and invasive species. The list of species associated with the webs and ancillary trapping will provide a baseline assessment of the pollinator fauna at BNP which can be expanded upon and reassessed over time and in response to climatic changes. Lead contact : Diane Larson (USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center)
  Living Alongside Butterflies: How Measuring Pesticide Exposure Levels can Support Refuge Management . USGS Scientists with the Contaminant Biology Program at the Southeast Ecological Science Center are assisting the National Key Deer Refuge (located on Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys) in an evaluation of mosquito control pesticide impacts to butterflies. Two butterflies species (Florida leafwing butterfly [ Anaea troglodyta floridalis ] and Bartram's hairstreak butterfly [ Strymon acis bartrami ]) that reside on the Refuge and are candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act may be impacted by currently permitted aerial application of a mosquito control insecticide over the Refuge. The USGS scientists are conducting laboratory and in-situ field studies to assess the likelihood that the candidate butterflies are impacted by the mosquito control pesticide. Lead contact : Timothy Bargar, Southeast Ecological Science Center.
  Mid Atlantic and Northeastern National Wildlife Refuge Bee Project . Dr.'s Sam Droege (USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center) and Dr. Leo Shapiro (Independent Biologist) are working with the Region 5 or Northeast National Wildlife Refuges on bee surveys of late summer/early fall fields. The study will examine the variability of captures across fields at different distances and provide the refuges with an initial small amount of information about their bee populations. The researchers are also trying a different approach to reporting the results - they have created a blog with entries for each refuge's results at:
  The very handy manual: how to catch and identify bees and manage a collection. (PDF). This online guide to North American bee identification provides detailed instructions on bee monitoring techniques including specimen collection, processing and management, and bee identification. Lead contact: Sam Droege, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab.
  Karner Blue Butterfly ( Lycaeides melissa samuelis) Research . Beginning in the early 1990's, Dr. Ralph Grundel (Ecologist, USGS Great Lakes Science Center) has carried out extensive research in the Indiana Dunes on the habitat use patterns of adult Karner blue butterflies, the demography of wild lupine ( Lupinus perennis L. ) - the specific host plant of the Karner blue butterfly, and on developing effective protocols for monitoring Karner blue butterfly populations. Significant findings and publications that resulted from this and related research by Dr. Grundel are published or referenced online by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and in Dr. Grundel's U.S. Geological Survey staff profile. The Karner blue butterfly was Federally listed as an endangered species in 1992.
  Effects of invasive plant species on pollinator service and reproduction in native plants at Acadia National Park. The effects of invasive plant species on pollinator behavior were investigated by comparing pollinator visitation to co-flowering native and invasive species with visitation to native species growing alone. Objectives were to determine: 1) the influence, if any, of each invasive on pollinator visitation to a co-flowering native species, 2) factors that might affect visitation, 3) invasive pollen transfer to native plants, and 4) whether invasives influence native plant reproduction (fruit set). A field guide for identification of native bumble bees has been produced to help Park Natural Resource personnel monitor the status of native bee populations in Acadia, along with other educational materials that were aimed at educating Park visitors. Lead contacts : C. J. Stubbs, F. Drummond, and H. Ginsberg, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

USGS Developing Statistical Tools
To Study Pollinator Interactions with Plants

From 10-13 December 2009, USGS statistician Bob Dorazio (SESC) is participating in a meeting of the Binary Matrices Working Group at the University of Tennessee. Sponsored by the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), the meeting will focus on developing a statistical framework that can help overcome the current statistical constraints and challenges of analyzing pollinator networks. Dorazio's research will address methods for overcoming the shortcomings of current statistical tools, which do not account for the ecological traits of pollinators. For example, the timing of the pollinator visit must occur while a plant is in bloom (a challenge in statistically defining the probability of pollination events) and consider highly complex pollinator networks and food webs. Analysis ideally should also factor in genetics of pollinators, which tend to evolve over short time periods in conjunction with local plants, and account for the specific sampling procedures that are being used to gather data. (Bob Dorazio, 352-392-3081,

Spotlight on Dr. Diane Larson: Research Focus on Pollination Ecology

A photo of Dr. Diane Larson exiting a rock formation.
USGS staff member Dr. Diane Larson.

Diane Larson works at the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center as a Research Wildlife Biologist as well as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. She is an expert in plant-and-animal interactions in pollination ecology, seed dispersal, and biological control as well as in the ecology of plant invasion in natural areas. Click here for a list of Dr. Larson's publications.

In 2006, Dr. Larson and colleagues published the results of a study on the effects of the invasive plant, leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula), on pollination of native plants. Results showed when leafy spurge was present there were fewer visits by sweat bees (Halictidae) to native plants; stigmas of native flowers were covered with more leafy spurge pollen and less conspecific pollen (pollen from the same species) than those further from leafy spurge infestations; and some indication that seed set is negatively affected by the presence of leafy spurge pollen.

References: Insect visitation and pollen deposition in an invaded prairie plant community, D. L. Larson, R. A. Royer, and M. R. Royer, Biological Conservation, 2006, vol. 130, pp. 148-159; Invasive Plants and Pollinator Interactions [PDF], Diane L. Larson, Endangered Species Bulletin, Fall 2008, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 46-49

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