Foraging Ecology

While mechanisms driving bee foraging patterns are likely dependent on both floral resource availability and habitat composition, the impacts of these factors on bee foraging are rarely simultaneously analyzed. Based on work conducted in coffee agroecosystems, Texas and California grasslands, and Gulf Coast cotton fields, our findings indicate that the foraging and visitation patterns of native and exotic bees contrast in response to landscape composition, floral resource diversity and density, and spatial scale.  More recent work looking at pollen collection patterns has also revealed that pollinator pollen load composition is often generalized and is driven by local land use, floral phenology, and pollinator sex, even for putatively specialist species.

Using population genetic and genomic tools to examine bee movement and nesting densities, we have revealed that bumble bee foraging is far more plastic and extensive than previously believed, varying by more than 30x across landscapes.  Our research highlights the role of flowering species richness in mediating long-distance foraging and reveals a negative relationship between pavement and wild bee nesting densities.