BOZEMAN, Mont. – Laura Burkle and her colleagues captured 2,778 bees while retracing the muddy steps of a scientist who studied the interactions between bees and flowering plants more than a century ago.
Occasionally stung, but considering herself lucky to have access to the rich historic records that guided her field work, the Montana State University ecologist and her collaborators have now published their results in "Science."
Burkle conducted her bee study in the forests of southern Illinois while she was a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Now at MSU for the past two years and planning a major ecological study between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park, Burkle and her co-authors compared the bees and flowering plants that existed in 2009 and 2010 with those that existed in the late 1800s and early 1900s around Carlinville, Ill.
The researchers discovered that the area has lost many species of bees and flowering plants over the 120 years since professor Charles Robertson first surveyed the area, Burkle said. Also lost were many interactions between the bees and flowers.
Despite the loss, however, the bees and plants have been... Read more...