Research Overview

linkdinWelcome! I am a spatial ecologist with the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History Bees’ Needs citizen science project. I use R and ArcGIS to study how human environments impact wild bee communities in Colorado. The highly diverse group of bees that lives on the plains and in the foothills of Colorado provides a unique natural experiment for understanding the effects of land-use on bees. During my Master’s work Dr. Deane Bowers, I studied the effects of land use on community composition using remotely sensed data and predator-prey interactions in human made habitat patches. I am currently developing interactive data visualizations and spatial analyses for the Bees’ Needs remotely from Washington D.C.

Agricultural impacts

By surveying bee communities in grasslands surrounded by different intensities of agricultural production, we can start to understand what aspects of land-use-change affect bee communities most.  Advances in GIS technology and remote sensing allow us to analyze  broad scale patterns in the landscape. When combined with data compiled by the USDA and EPA, its possible to estimate the impact of agronomic practices like pesticide application or tillage regimes. From there, an understanding of which aspects of land-use are most detrimental or beneficial to populations of bees can be formed.

Behavioral research

I am particularly interested in the biotic interactions occurring in roadside edges between bees and plants, and bees and other insects. Roadside edges are often ungrazed, untilled, and infrequently mowed, making them prime habitat for weedy flowering plants. You can imagine that each flower is like a watering hole in the serengeti, there are multiple species competing for the same limiting resource and multiple predators looking to capitalize on the concentration of prey items. These biotic interactions will influence the structure of bee communities and could be especially important in agriculturally dominated landscapes. I have designed and conducted behavioral experiments to test bees’ ability to assess the risk posed by flower occupying insects.

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