Forest bees are replaced in agricultural and urban landscapes by native species with different phenologies and life-history traits

Tina Harrison, Jason Gibbs, Rachael Winfree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Anthropogenic landscapes are associated with biodiversity loss and large shifts in species composition and traits. These changes predict the identities of winners and losers of future global change, and also reveal which environmental variables drive a taxon's response to land use change. We explored how the biodiversity of native bee species changes across forested, agricultural, and urban landscapes. We collected bee community data from 36 sites across a 75,000 km2 region, and analyzed bee abundance, species richness, composition, and life-history traits. Season-long bee abundance and richness were not detectably different between natural and anthropogenic landscapes, but community phenologies differed strongly, with an early spring peak followed by decline in forests, and a more extended summer season in agricultural and urban habitats. Bee community composition differed significantly between all three land use types, as did phylogenetic composition. Anthropogenic land use had negative effects on the persistence of several life-history strategies, including early spring flight season and brood parasitism, which may indicate adaptation to conditions in forest habitat. Overall, anthropogenic communities are not diminished subsets of contemporary natural communities. Rather, forest species do not persist in anthropogenic habitats, but are replaced by different native species and phylogenetic lineages preadapted to open habitats. Characterizing compositional and functional differences is crucial for understanding land use as a global change driver across large regional scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-296
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Apoidea
  • fourth-corner
  • global change
  • land use
  • phenology
  • pollinator
  • richness
  • traits

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