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Bark beetle outbreak enhances biodiversity and foraging habitat of native bees in alpine landscapes of the southern Rocky Mountains




Davis, Thomas Seth, author
Rhoades, Paul R., author
Mann, Andrew J., author
Griswold, Terry, author
Scientific Reports, publisher

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Landscape-scale bark beetle outbreaks alter forest structure with direct and indirect effects on plants and animals in forest ecosystems. Using alpine spruce forest and a native bee community as a study system, we tested how tree mortality from bark beetles impacts bee foraging habitats and populations. Bees were collected across the growing season (early-, middle-, and late-season) for two years using passive trapping methods, and collections were used to analyze patterns in species abundances and diversity. Three important findings emerged: (1) forest stands that were post-outbreak had 62% higher floral density and 68% more floral species during peak bloom, respectively, than non-affected stands; (2) bee captures were highest early-season (June) and were not strongly affected by bark beetle outbreak; however, mean number of bee species and Shannon–Weiner diversity were significantly higher in post-outbreak stands and this effect was pronounced early in the growing season. Corresponding analysis of β-diversity indicated higher accumulation of bee biodiversity in post-outbreak stands and a turnover in the ratio of Bombus: Osmia; (3) bee captures were linked to variation in foraging habitat, but number of bee species and diversity were more strongly predicted by forest structure. Our results provide evidence of increased alpine bee biodiversity in post-outbreak stands and increased availability of floral resources. We conclude that large-scale disturbance from bark beetle outbreaks may drive shifts in pollinator community composition through cascading effects on floral resources, mediated via mortality of overstory trees.


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Community ecology
Forest ecology


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