Big city bees: exploring the consequences of urbanization on native bee communities in Chicago
With urban areas growing dramatically, it is critical that we understand how ecological communities respond to the land-use changes associated with urbanization. Native pollinators may be particularly susceptible to effects of urbanization given various aspects of their ecology and natural history. Although research on the effects of urbanization on native bees is growing, we are still far from a clear understanding of the key factors influencing the structure of bee communities in urban areas. This research investigates native bee communities in the Chicago metropolitan area along an urbanization gradient from downtown Chicago and up into the North Suburbs. More specifically, the REU intern will work on field projects exploring: (1) how does native bee community composition vary along an urbanization gradient, and (2) are any differences in bee communities related to the traits possessed by different bee species, or various landscape features (e.g., availability floral resources), or some combination of both? Ultimately, our goal is to better understand the features that promote bee diversity in both urban and natural ecosystems.