Assessing wild bees in perennial bioenergy landscapes: effects of bioenergy crop composition, landscape configuration, and bioenergy crop area
Wild bee populations are currently under threat, which has led to recent efforts to increase pollinator habitat in North America. Simultaneously, U.S. federal energy policies are beginning to encourage perennial bioenergy cropping (PBC) systems, which have the potential to support native bees.
Our objective was to explore the potentially interactive effects of crop composition, total PBC area, and PBC patches in different landscape configurations.
Using a spatially-explicit modeling approach, the Lonsdorf model, we simulated the impacts of three perennial bioenergy crops (PBC: willow, switchgrass, and prairie), three scenarios with different total PBC area (11.7, 23.5 and 28.8% of agricultural land converted to PBC) and two types of landscape configurations (PBC in clustered landscape patterns that represent realistic future configurations or in dispersed neutral landscape models) on a nest abundance index in an Illinois landscape.
Our modeling results suggest that crop composition and PBC area are particularly important for bee nest abundance, whereas landscape configuration is associated with bee nest abundance at the local scale but less so at the regional scale.
Strategies to enhance wild bee habitat should therefore emphasize the crop composition and amount of PBC.
KeywordsInVEST Lonsdorf model Perennial bioenergy crops Pollinator Neutral landscape models Alternative scenario Nest abundance index
This project was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office. The project was also funded in part by dissertation fellowships granted to JBG by the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School. Author contributions: JBG conducted the analysis and wrote the manuscript as part of a doctoral dissertation. JIN supervised the work and contributed to the conceptual design. WSC contributed to the framing and conceptual design of the neutral landscape models, analysis techniques, and research questions. HS contributed to the conceptual design and provided data used in developing future landscape patterns. MCN contributed to the conceptual design. We would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.
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