Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Room: Park Tower 8206
Margaret Flowers - Simpson College
Co-Author(s): Deborah R Smith, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Due to the recent decline in bee populations, ecologists worldwide have raised concerns and, consequently, accelerated research efforts since we rely on bees for their pollination services. Comparing studies is essential to the success of bee conservation, but proper comparisons can only be carried out if a standardized sampling method is implemented. Pan trapping is popular among bee ecologists because it is simple and inexpensive. Researchers lay out small, painted bowls and fill them with soapy water. Insects are attracted to the bright color and drown in the traps. However, this technique varies greatly in methodology, such as the size and placement of pan traps, which often leads to biased results. In this study, we examine how pan trap diameter, pan trap height, and floral density at the site of pan traps influences the abundance and body size of captured bees in Lawrence, Kansas. Based on a parallel study, we hypothesized no difference in the abundance of bees between different pan trap diameters. We hypothesized fewer bees will be found in high floral density sites than low floral density sites because bees will be more attracted to real blossoms than the artificial ones that pan traps resemble. Finally, we hypothesized there will be a significant difference in bee abundance and body size between ground-level traps and elevated traps. For the first part of the study, we selected a grassland plot at the University of Kansas. We deployed ground-level traps and elevated traps of all the same diameter and color. For the second part of the study we used the same site at different times to lay out sets of pan traps (45mm, 75mm, 120mm, and 150mm) in four transects. Finally, for part three, we selected three research sites that we expected to have differing levels of floral density and laid out pan traps at the same height (ground-level), the same diameter (75mm), and the same color. We found that elevated pan traps caught more bees than ground-level traps, but similar body sizes were recovered at both trap heights. Bees did not seem to have a preference regarding pan trap diameter as there was no significant difference in abundance of captured bees between the four trap sizes. Finally, pan traps placed in floral-dense fields caught more bees than traps placed in fields with low floral density. These findings emphasize the significance of understanding how a lack of standardized sampling can create incompatibility between study results. More long-term research should be carried out, as our study lasted only 10 weeks. Future research on this topic will contribute to a standardized sampling method that will allow for unbiased and accurate comparative studies.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation
Faculty Advisor: Deborah R Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: I designed and conducted the study with suggestions, advice, and assistance from my mentor, Dr. Deb Smith. I completed field work and lab work with the help of Dr. Smith, and statistical analysis with the help of a bio-statistician at the University of Kansas, Boryana Koseva. Field work included laying out, filling, and collecting pan traps. Lab work included sorting insects, pinning bees, and identifying bees to morpho-species level.