Dr. Clint Otto, USGS, Northern Prairie Research Center
Abstract. Human dependence on insect pollination services continues to grow even as pollinators face global population declines. The Upper Midwest, a region often referred to as America’s last honey bee (Apis mellifera) refuge, has undergone rapid land-use change due to bioenergy crop production and loss of conservation grasslands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), thereby threatening habitat for pollinators. My team is conducting a landscape-scale analysis of how land-use change affects forage availability and honey bee colony health throughout the Upper Midwest. We are also performing simulation models to forecast how future land-use changes will alter landscape suitability for supporting honey bee colonies. Our simulation models provide policy makers with direct information of how future land-use changes will affect the environmental carrying capacity for supporting honey bees and the US beekeeping industry. Concurrent with our landscape studies, my team is also conducting field research to determine dietary preference of native bees and honey bees. The results of our research are being used by natural resource managers to valuate seeding mixes for land conservation programs such as CRP to improve forage for honey bees and native pollinators in agroecosystems. Collectively, results from my team’s our research will be useful for informing national policy and land management actions that benefit pollinators.