Bumble bees (Bombus spp.) are essential pollinators of both cultivated and wild flowering plants. However, declines have been documented in many bumble bee species worldwide. Though urban encroachment is a likely driver of such losses, urban green spaces may serve as habitat islands for bumble bee populations. Our research aims to ascertain the importance of such areas for bumble bees in Denton County by incorporating field, GIS, molecular, and computational modeling methodologies. Preliminary results from 2013 samples confirm the presence of two declining bumble bee species in Denton County, Bombus fraternus (Smith, 1854) and Bombus pensylvanicus (DeGeer, 1773), and demonstrate that existing community gardens and urban wild spaces provide habitat for both species. Ongoing research involves a population genetics approach to understand the structure of local populations, as well as computational modeling to predict how these populations may change in the future.
Bombus fraternus at Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center, Summer 2013