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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Joint Impacts of Drought and Habitat Fragmentation on Native Bee Assemblages in a California Biodiversity Hotspot

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The data associated with this publication are in the supplemental files.

Global climate change is causing more frequent and severe droughts, which could have serious repercussions for the maintenance of biodiversity. Here, we compare native bee assemblages collected via bowl traps before and after a severe drought event in 2014 in San Diego, California, and examine the relative magnitude of impacts from drought in fragmented habitat patches versus unfragmented natural reserves. Bee richness and diversity were higher in assemblages surveyed before the drought compared to those surveyed after the drought. However, bees belonging to the Lasioglossum subgenus Dialictus increased in abundance after the drought, driving increased representation by small-bodied, primitively eusocial, and generalist bees in post-drought assemblages. Conversely, among non-Dialictus bees, post-drought years were associated with decreased abundance and reduced representation by eusocial species. Drought effects were consistently greater in reserves, which supported more bee species, than in fragments, suggesting that fragmentation either had redundant impacts with drought, or ameliorated effects of drought by enhancing bees’ access to floral resources in irrigated urban environments. Shifts in assemblage composition associated with drought were three times greater compared to those associated with habitat fragmentation, highlighting the importance of understanding the impacts of large-scale climatic events relative to those associated with land use change.

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