Submitted to: Learning from the Land
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: The process of inventorying for pollinating insects in the United States is still far from complete with many areas still largely unsampled. One such frontier of bee study is the Colorado Plateau. A recent study of the San Rafael Desert in central Utah is evidence of how little is known of this region. A total of 49 genera and 333 species are now known from the San Rafael Desert including 40 new species. This is more genera and nearly as many species of bees as in all of New England. Levels of endemism are also high; one-fourth of the bee species are not known outside of the San Rafael Desert. Preliminary sampling in other parts of the Colorado Plateau suggest that the San Rafael Desert is not unique in diversity. Nearly half of the bees presently recorded from the Grand Staircase--Escalante National Monume are not present in the San Rafael Desert, suggesting that there may be othe areas of the plateau with distinctive faunas.
Technical Abstract: The Colorado Plateau appears to be a region of rich bee diversity and endemism. A fifteen year study of the bee fauna of southeastern Utah's San Rafael Desert, a small portion of the plateau dominated by sand dunes, recorded 49 genera and 333 species--more genera and nearly as many species as in all of New England. Endemism is very high (one-fourth of the species). Diversity is the result of such factors as floral specialization (at least one-third of the species specialize on plants at the family or generic level), abundant and diverse nesting sites, strong seasonality of solitary species, and the historical contributions of diverse sources. Limited sampling in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument suggests it to be equally diverse but distinctive; nearly half of the monument's bees are not present in the San Rafael Desert.