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Reduction by half: the impact on bees of 34 years of urbanization


Urban ecosystems are growing rapidly and urbanization is an important cause of the loss of biodiversity. Bees are declining in abundance worldwide, including urban areas, and this decline is alarming because of their global importance as plant pollinators. Here we examine that decline by comparing a bee assemblage sampled in the 1980s and again in 2015, in an urban area of the city of Curitiba. Both studies sampled assemblages with hand-nets every two weeks during one year of study. Bee species richness has declined by 45% (112 species then, 63 today). Two species that have disappeared, Gaesischia fulgurans (Holmberg, 1903) and Thectochlora basiatra (Strand, 1910), have also disappeared elsewhere in the city. Also, relative abundances of species have changed, notably with the increase of social bees. Large bees that nest in cavities have also increased relative to small bees that nest in the ground. These findings are similar with previous reports indicating the sensibility of bees to urbanization. The increase in paved areas, in urban population and in exotic plants are all probably responsible for the sharp decline in bee diversity and abundance.

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We would like to thank Gabriel Melo for identification of the Megachilini bees and José Tadeu Weidlich Motta for plant identification. We also acknowledge the Brazilian Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento for scholarships to both authors. James J. Roper translated this text from the original Portuguese, and offered comments to improve the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Rodrigo Barbosa Gonçalves.

Electronic supplementary material

Fig. S1

(PNG 2976 kb)

High Resolution Image (TIF 3058 kb)

Table S1

List of bee species found in the Campus Jardim Botânico, Curitiba, Brazil. Morphospecies are indicated by letters for the collection in 1981 and numbers for the collection in 2015 (following Martins et al. 2013). (XLS 52 kb)

Table S2

Plant – bee matrix for 1981 assemblage Campus Jardim Botânico, Curitiba, Brazil. (XLS 296 kb)

Table S3

Plant – bee matrix for 1981 assemblage Campus Jardim Botânico, Curitiba, Brazil. (XLS 102 kb)

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Cardoso, M.C., Gonçalves, R.B. Reduction by half: the impact on bees of 34 years of urbanization. Urban Ecosyst 21, 943–949 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-018-0773-7

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  • Apidae
  • Apoidea
  • Pollinators
  • Species richness
  • Urbanization