Native Pollinator Conservation
Quamash EcoResearch is part of a collaborative investigation exploring the mechanisms behind the rapid invasion of
the common eastern bumble bee, Bombus impatiens. Commercially reared B. impatiens have been used in
greenhouse tomato production in western British Columbia, and within the past few years, escaped eastern bumble
bees have begun a rapid expansion through both B.C. and northwestern Washington state.
This project documents the expansion, and also explores a basic question in ecology: is direct or indirect competition
driving this invasion? Our central hypothesis is that feral B. impatiens populations will negatively impact
native Bombus abundance, foraging behavior, pathogen/parasite diversity, and immune response via both resource
competition and pathogen spillover.
Check back soon for more details!
We used video footage and field experiments to study insect predation on federally endangered checkerspot larvae, finding that ground-dwelling insect predation had a significant negative impact on larval survival. We have also studied habitat choices by ovipositing checkerspot females to assess necessary habitat densities of nectar and host plants. Finally, we have examined pollinator visitation to two native host plants, Castilleja hispida and Castilleja levisecta, both of which are planted heavily to promote checkerspot habitat; both are also pollinator-dependent for reproduction.
This research was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.