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Researching an endangered relationship
Date:5/8/2014

ing bees that forage among various flowering trees as well the "understory" plants beneath the trees. Unlike social bee species, such as honey bees, cavity-nesting bees lead solitary lives in the wild, pollinating many types of flowering trees as they search for food. In some parts of the country, orchard owners provide a hospitable nesting environment to encourage pollinating visits to almond, apple, cherry and other types of fruit trees.

The Morristown site also is appealing because it is a temperate forest, with a comparatively narrow window of time when the bees emerge in the spring and the trees leaf out. In addition, Morristown is part of the Northeast Temperate Network (NETN) established by the U.S. National Park Service to monitor ecological conditions in 12 parks located in seven northeastern states as well as six more states traversed by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Working at a NETN site enables DeVan and Bunker to integrate their data into the network's larger ecological picture.

"We realized that Morristown could give us a really nice model system for looking at how bees and plants might respond differently to the effects of climate change," Bunker says. He explains that the primary experimental focus is on the bees since their activity is influenced mainly by temperature, whereas plants respond to changes in the length of the day, the photoperiod, along with temperature. And the cavity-nesting bees at Morristown are especially sensitive to spring temperature changes.

Out and about early

To enlist the Morristown bees in their work, the researchers place nesting boxes they have built near 28 NETN forest-monitoring plots in the park. Adult bees create the nests. The nests have several cells with an egg in each one that metamorphosizes like butterflies do through the summer. By fall they are adults in their cocoons, where they overwinter. The initial phase of the program that Bunker and DeVan have
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Contact: Tanya Klein
973-596-3433
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3 4

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