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Ecol Appl. 2007 Apr;17(3):910-21.

Resource distributions among habitats determine solitary bee offspring production in a mosaic landscape.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, USA.


Within mosaic landscapes, many organisms depend on attributes of the environment that operate over scales ranging from a single habitat patch to the entire landscape. One such attribute is resource distribution. Organisms' reliance on resources from within a local patch vs. those found among habitats throughout the landscape will depend on local habitat quality, patch quality, and landscape composition. The ability of individuals to move among complementary habitat types to obtain various resources may be a critical mechanism underlying the dynamics of animal populations and ultimately the level of biodiversity at different spatial scales. We examined the effects that local habitat type and landscape composition had on offspring production and survival of the solitary bee Osmia lignaria in an agri-natural landscape in California (U.S.A.). Female bees were placed on farms that did not use pesticides (organic farms), on farms that did use pesticides (conventional farms), or in seminatural riparian habitats. We identified pollens collected by bees nesting in different habitat types and matched these to pollens of flowering plants from throughout the landscape. These data enabled us to determine the importance of different plant species and habitat types in providing food for offspring, and how this importance changed with landscape and local nesting-site characteristics. We found that increasing isolation from natural habitat significantly decreased offspring production and survival for bees nesting at conventional farms, had weaker effects on bees in patches of seminatural habitat, and had little impact on those at organic farm sites. Pollen sampled from nests showed that females nesting in both farm and seminatural habitats relied on pollen from principally native plant species growing in seminatural habitat. Thus connectivity among habitats was critical for offspring production. Females nesting on organic farms were buffered to isolation effects by switching to floral resources growing at the farm site when seminatural areas were too distant. Overall local habitat conditions (farm management practices) can help bolster pollinators, but maintaining functional connectivity among habitats will likely be critical for persistence of pollinator populations as natural habitats are increasingly fragmented by human activities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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