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Interest in bees has grown dramatically in recent years in light of several studies that have reported widespread declines in bees and other pollinators. Investigating declines in wild bees can be difficult, however, due to the lack of faunal surveys that provide baseline data of bee richness and diversity. Protected lands such as national monuments and national parks can provide unique opportunities to learn about and monitor bee populations dynamics in a natural setting because the opportunity for large-scale changes to the landscape are reduced compared to unprotected lands. Here we report on a 4-year study of bees in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), found in southern Utah, USA. Using opportunistic collecting and a series of standardized plots, we collected bees throughout the six-month flowering season for four consecutive years. In total, 660 bee species are now known from the area, across 55 genera, and including 49 new species. Two genera not previously known to occur in the state of Utah were discovered, as well as 16 new species records for the state. Bees include ground-nesters, cavity- and twig-nesters, cleptoparasites, narrow specialists, generalists, solitary, and social species. The bee fauna reached peak diversity each spring, but also experienced a second peak in diversity in late summer, following monsoonal rains. The majority of GSENM’s bees are highly localized, occurring in only a few locations throughout the monument, and often in low abundance, but consistently across the four years. Only a few species are widespread and super-abundant. Certain flowering plants appear to be inordinately attractive to the bees in GSENM, including several invasive species. GSENM protects one of the richest bee faunas in the west; the large elevational gradient, incredible number of flowering plants, and the mosaic of habitats are all likely contributors to this rich assemblage of bees.
Carril et al. (2018), Wild bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: richness, abundance, and spatio-temporal beta-diversity. PeerJ 6:e5867; DOI 10.7717/peerj.5867