Eager: Climate Change And Phenological Mismatch - An Experimental Test With Cavity Nesting Bees, Cleptoparasites, And Floral Resources

Project: Research project

Project Details


Species that rely closely upon one another, such as bees and the plants they pollinate, may respond differently to global climate change, with potentially dire consequences such as poor crop pollination and low yields. For instance, pollinators may respond strongly to climate warming and emerge earlier in the growing season, while their preferred flowers respond less strongly and emerge later. This mismatch in timing could severely impact either organism if one relies strongly on the other. The work proposed here would test the importance of such mismatches for cavity-nesting bees and the trees they pollinate, by experimentally manipulating bee springtime emergence. In addition, the proposed work will develop two novel technologies that are critical for this and similar experiments. The first technology will enable bee nests to be warmed in the field and cause the resident bees to emerge earlier in the spring. The second technology will employ tiny labels, similar to bar-codes, that can be placed on the backs of bees. The bees and tags can then be monitored using computer assisted image recognition. By placing a video camera at each nest, this technology will allow researchers to study in detail how bees respond to a warming climate and shifting schedules of flowering.

Understanding and predicting how species and ecological communities respond to global climate change is critical because the pace of climate change over the next few decades may greatly exceed what species have previously experienced over the previous millennium. Since many wild plants and animals provide important services that are critical for human well-being, an understanding of how they may be impacted by climate change is essential for any effort to predict and mitigate these effects. Indeed, bees are the most important pollinators globally, providing pollination services to both agricultural and natural ecosystems. Additionally, the proposed micro-tagging and tracking technologies may redefine how scientists study small mobile organisms, which often have outsized impacts on ecosystems but are difficult to study due to their small size. Finally, one Ph.D. student will be trained, and at least two undergraduate students will gain valuable field and laboratory research experience.
Effective start/end date2/15/131/31/15


  • National Science Foundation


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