Bumble bee with RFID tag ready to go to the field

Esther Julier (the bump in the middle of the row cover) looks for evidence of squash bees nesting in a farmer's pumpkin field

Bumble Bee Population Dynamics

We are looking at various factors, including parasitism, and resource availability, that may play a role in regulating bumble bee populations. Recent research in North America and Europe has indicated that several species of bumble bee have undergone precipitous declines in recent decades, with one, the rusty-patched bumble bee, becoming the first bee species in the continental United States to be placed on the Endangered Species List. Because bumble bees play important roles in both agricultural and wild plant pollination, these declines are of great concern. We use RFID technology to help us understand the risks they face in the landscape.

Effects of Ozone on Plant Volatile Compounds

In the upper atmosphere ozone protects life on earth from ultraviolet readiation, but in the lower atmosphere it is a known environmental pollutant that can damage living cells. Less known are the effects that ozone, as a strong oxidizing agent, may have on long distance scent cues used by animals to find mates and food. Along with Jose Fuentes, an atmospheric scientist at Penn State University, we are studying the potential disruption of pollinator and herbivore cues by increasing ozone pollution in rural environments. Publications on this research line, initiated in our labs by Quinn McFrederick, include pub1

Ecosytem Services of Wild Pollinators

While managed honey bees are commonly placed in agricultural fields for pollination, wild bees provide extensive pollination services on farms, especially on smaller farms in diverse landscapes. In fact, bee species such as the native squash bee, which collects pollen only from squash, gourds and pumpkins (plants in the genus Cucurbita are often the dominant pollinator of squash even when honey bees are placed on farms for pollination. Understanding how landscape management influences wild bee populations can inform regional and local efforts at maintaining pollinators and the ecoystem services they provide.