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Floral abundance, richness, and spatial distribution drive urban garden bee communities

  • M. Plascencia (a1) (a2) and S.M. Philpott (a2)

In urban landscapes, gardens provide refuges for bee diversity, but conservation potential may depend on local and landscape features. Foraging and population persistence of bee species, as well as overall pollinator community structure, may be supported by the abundance, richness, and spatial distribution of floral resources. Floral resources strongly differ in urban gardens. Using hand netting and pan traps to survey bees, we examined whether abundance, richness, and spatial distribution of floral resources, as well as ground cover and garden landscape surroundings influence bee abundance, species richness, and diversity on the central coast of California. Differences in floral abundance and spatial distribution, as well as urban cover in the landscape, predicted different bee community variables. Abundance of all bees and of honeybees (Apis mellifera) was lower in sites with more urban land cover surrounding the gardens. Honeybee abundance was higher in sites with patchy floral resources, whereas bee species richness and bee diversity was higher in sites with more clustered floral resources. Surprisingly, bee species richness and bee diversity was lower in sites with very high floral abundance, possibly due to interactions with honeybees. Other studies have documented the importance of floral abundance and landscape surroundings for bees in urban gardens, but this study is the first to document that the spatial arrangement of flowers strongly predicts bee abundance and richness. Based on these findings, it is likely that garden managers may promote bee conservation by managing for floral connectivity and abundance within these ubiquitous urban habitats.

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