An Ecological Networks Approach Reveals Restored Native Vegetation Benefits Wild Bees in Agroecosystems

Submitted by barogers on Tue, 10/24/2023 - 11:49

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biological Conservation, Volume 287 (2023)



Bee body condition, network analysis, plant-pollinator network, prairie strips, trophic interactions


<p>Conservation of species that rely on mutualistic partners such as pollinators are often better studied using interaction networks and indicators of ecological functions. We used a novel systems-ecology approach using network analysis and bee morphological traits to investigate ecological structure and bee body condition in the context of a conservation practice known as prairie strips established within row-crop fields compared to unrestored field margins. We found the increased flower resources in prairie strips produced a network supporting higher bee abundance and a greater chance for bee-mediated plant pollination. Some, but not all, bee groups showed improved body condition at prairie strip sites with variation due to taxonomic group, foraging preferences, and body size. This study supports a growing body of literature on the utility of network analysis in more broadly assessing the effect of conservation practices on ecological communities.</p>