Reducing Protected Lands in a Hotspot of Bee Biodiversity: Bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
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Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a federally protected area found in central southern Utah. Designated in 1996 by President William J. Clinton, it was recently reduced in size by President Donald J. Trump in a proclamation that turned the one large monument into three smaller ones. A long-term, standardized study of the bees had been conducted from 2000–2003, revealing 660 species. The bee communities of the area are characterized by being spatially heterogeneous; most of the bees occur in isolated areas, with only a few being both abundant and widespread. Here we examine what affect the recent resizing of the monument has on the number, and ecology, of the bees now excluded from monument boundaries. Using the new monument boundaries and the geographic coordinates associated with each bee, we derived new species lists for each of the three monuments, and compared them to each other, and to the excluded lands. All three monuments now protect unique faunas, with Bray–Curtis similarity values not exceeding 0.59%. Each monument now harbors species not found in the other two monuments. We found that 84 bee species are no longer protected by any of the three monuments. These 84 species were not concentrated in one area that is now excluded, but were scattered throughout the newly excluded lands. For some of the excluded bee species, there is no evidence that they are rare or imperiled, being widespread throughout the west. However, there is a concentration of bees in the southern and eastern former monument lands that represent range extensions from nearby hot deserts. In addition to numerous range extensions, the list of excluded bees also contains several undescribed species (newly discovered species that have not yet been named and described by taxonomists) and morphospecies (individuals that are morphologically distinct, but that require additional research before species designations can be made). This indicates that the bee communities housed in these excluded areas would benefit from additional scientific inquiry. The areas now excluded from monument protections house a greater proportion of the original GSENM bee community than any of the three new monument units. We conclude this paper by discussing what the smaller monuments might mean for bee conservation in this hot spot of bee biodiversity and suggest that bee communities here and elsewhere should be taken into account when conservation decisions are being made.
Wilson JS, Kelly M, Carril OM. 2018. Reducing protected lands in a hotspot of bee biodiversity: bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. PeerJ 6:e6057 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.6057