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Habitat suitability of an at-risk, monolectic, ground-nesting bee Hesperapis oraria and its floral host Balduina angustifolia at two spatial scales along the Northern Gulf of Mexico

Abstract

Hesperapis oraria, Snelling and Stage (Hymenoptera: Melittidae) is endemic to northern coastal habitats of the Gulf of Mexico and is a pollen specialist of floral host Balduina angustifolia Pursh. (Asteraceae). Specialization and restricted geographic distribution along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico warrants further investigation into habitat requirements of the bee. This study quantifies the habitat use of H. oraria in association with B. angustifolia distribution at regional and landscape spatial scales using a classification tree species distribution modeling approach. Hesperapis oraria density was lower on barrier island sites compared with coastal mainland sites; no H. oraria were found on non-coastal mainland sites. The regional distribution of H. oraria was driven by the number of B. angustifolia patches, while at the landscape scale H. oraria presence was predicted most strongly by B. angustifolia patch area, plant density, as well as distance from ephemeral wetlands. The regional distribution of B. angustifolia was influenced by the proximity to the bay and within a landscape B. angustifolia distribution was strongly influenced by the stability of the landscape feature in which it was found.

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Acknowledgements

This work was completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the MS degree by Hannah Hunsberger and is based upon work supported by the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, McIntire Stennis project under FLA‐JAY‐005222. The authors acknowledge financial support by the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service (Study #:GUIS-00172). Research permits for conducting the study in protected areas were proved by U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida State Forests and Florida Park Service.

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Correspondence to Debbie L. Miller.

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Davis, H.K., Miller, D.L. & Thetford, M. Habitat suitability of an at-risk, monolectic, ground-nesting bee Hesperapis oraria and its floral host Balduina angustifolia at two spatial scales along the Northern Gulf of Mexico. J Insect Conserv 24, 561–573 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-020-00236-0

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Keywords

  • Barrier islands
  • CART
  • Classification tree
  • Coastalplain honeycombhead
  • Gulf coast solitary bee