- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
But more about that later.
Community ecologist Laura Burkle, associate professor in the Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, is keenly interested in plant-insect interactions, especially floral volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
She'll discuss her research on “The Implications of Variation in Floral Volatiles for Plant-Pollinator Interactions" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar from 4:10 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 30 in 122 Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus. Hosts are pollination ecologist Neal Williams, professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and doctoral student Maureen Page of the Williams lab.
“One understudied pathway by which environmental conditions and climate change may influence plant-pollinator interactions is via shifts in floral scent and pollinator attraction,” Burkle says in her abstract. “We sampled the floral volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phenologies, and pollinator visitors from naturally growing plants in a montane meadow over three seasons. With these data, we aim to acquire a base understanding of the variation in floral VOCs within and among species and how floral VOCs and other plant traits may structure plant-pollinator interactions across the growing season and across years.”
How did Burkle interested in bees and pollination? “At the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Colorado,” she says.
“To be honest, in college I was enamored with marine biology, until I realized that I didn't like being continuously wet while doing field work. Plants I liked because they stayed put for observation (unless eaten by a deer or something)...my interest in bees followed later. Bees and pollination are great fair-weather friends, literally :) And I'm fascinated by the complexity of their interactions with each other.”
Burkle received her bachelor of science degree in biology and environmental studies in 2000 from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, and then headed to Hanover, N.H., for her doctorate in biology in Dartmouth College's Ecology and Evolution program. Her dissertation: “Bottom-up Effects of Nutrient Enrichment on Plants, Pollinators and Their Interactions.”
Burkle served as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Biology at Washington University, St. Louis, from 2008 to 2010, and then joined the Department of Ecology at Montana State University as an assistant professor in 2011. She advanced to associate professor in 2017. At Montana State University, Burkle has taught Principles of Biological Diversity, Plant Ecology, Community Ecology, Ecological Networks and Disturbance Ecology.
She has published her work in Plant Ecology, New Phytologist, Biological Reviews, and Nature Ecology and Evolution, among others. She was the lead author of the technical publication, "Climate Change and Range Shifts" in the North American Bumble Bee Species Conservation Planning Workshop Final Report, published in 2011.
Her 2019 publications include “Checklist of Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) from Small Diversified Vegetable Farms in Southwestern Montana” in the Biodiversity Data Journal; “Dryland Organic Farming Increases Floral Resources and Bee Colony Success in Highly Simplified Agricultural Landscapes” in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment; and “The Effects of Post-Wildlife Logging on Plant Reproductive Success and Pollination in Symphoricarpos albus,” a fire-tolerant shrub, published in Forest Ecology and Management.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Nice to see you!
That's how we greeted our very last bumble bee of 2016.
The yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, apparently came out of hibernation and started nectaring on mallow Nov. 14 at the Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz. We were at the park to see the overwintering monarch butterflies, but it was definitely delightful to see another insect species as well.
Ms. Bombus buzzed from one mallow to the other, keeping her distance from the two-legged park visitors. Once she nearly collided with an overwintering monarch heading for tropical milkweed blossoms.
B. vosnesenskii, native to the west coast of North America and found from British Columbia to Baja California, is an iconic pollinator and also an important pollinator for such crops as greenhouse tomatoes. It's among the bumble bees featured in the book, Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University), the award-winning work of Paul H. Williams, Robbin W. Thorp, Leif L. Richardson and Sheila R. Colla.
When you click on the Princeton site, you'll hear the familiar buzz of bumble bees. It's just like encountering them in a wildflower meadow and listening to them take flight. It's a sound, unfortunately, that we're not hearing that much any more. The world's bumble bee population is declining, and some species are extinct or critically imperiled.
Speaking of bumble bees, did you see the paper, “Bumble Bees of Montana,” published this week by faculty and students in the Montana State University College of Agriculture in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America (AESA)? The scientists researched and compiled the state's first inventory of bumble bees known to live in Montana.
"The first time a bumble bee was recorded in Montana was in the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805," wrote Jenny Lavey of the MSU News Service.
Four scientists co-authored the paper:
- Michael Ivie, associate professor of entomology in the MSU Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology
- Kevin O'Neill, professor of entomology in the MSU Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences,
- Casey Delphia, MSU research scientist, and
- Amelia Dolan, former MSU entomology graduate student
"Because of Montana's size, landscape diversity and regional junction of eastern and western geographies, when it comes to bumble bees, Montana hosts a diverse, large and globally relevant community of species,” Ivie said in the news release. “Our research shows 28 different species of Bombus, with four more expected to make the list. That's the largest number of bumble bee species recorded for a state in the entire country."
Said Dolan: "It was amazing because we had people collecting specimens across the state, in varying elevations and diverse ecosystems – areas we alone wouldn't have had access to in the time that we had to complete the project. The number of species is representative of Montana's wild spaces and diverse landscapes that host these bees."
When was Bombus vosnesenskii first recorded in Montana? In 1923 (Frison).
If you want to hear more about bumble bees and other bees (some 1600 species of bees reside in California), be sure to attend a free two-hour presentation on "Bee Aware Bee Cause" at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 7 by Robbin Thorp at the Rush Ranch Nature Center, 3521 Grizzly Island Road, Suisun. A worldwide expert on bees, Thorp is a distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis who continues his research, writings and bee identification work. (See information on the event on previous Bug Squad blog.)