Entomology, Department of


First Advisor

Judy Y. Wu-Smart

Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Entomology, Under the Supervision of Professor Judy Y. Wu-Smart. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2019

Copyright 2019 Katie E. Lamke


The presence of diverse bee communities in an ecosystem is vital for maintaining healthy plant communities, promoting habitat resilience, and supporting sustainable agricultural production and urbanization. Approximately 20,000 known species of bees exist worldwide and assist with the successful reproduction of nearly 80% of Earth’s flowering plants by providing pollination services. In the US, wild bee declines have led to increased monitoring efforts for bees but there remain critical data gaps in prairies of the Great Plains ecoregion. Specific to the Tallgrass prairie where only 1-3% remains in native vegetation, the Nebraska Wildlife Action Plan has identified the loss of pollinators as a key stressor as well as a lack of sufficient data from which to monitor this stressor. This thesis seeks to 1) review current literature on the status of prairie ecosystems and the interdependency of wild bees, 2) establish and describe baseline data on wild bees and flowering forb communities, and examine their existing interactions in southeastern Nebraska Tallgrass prairies, 3) assess how the variation in vegetation cover influences the richness and abundance of wild bees, and 4) provide an extension guide highlighting a bee’s role in conserving the biological diversity of prairies. Over a period of 2 years, 85 species of wild bees and 114 species of flowering forbs were identified, and a preference index was calculated (based off of the abundance of bee visits to observed flowering forbs) to improve pollinator seed mixtures and inform future restoration efforts. Additionally, this thesis presents evidence that newly-restored prairies seeded with high diversity mixes support higher richness and abundance of wild bees compared to remnant prairies, however remnant prairies provide consistent support to wild bees on a temporal scale. Collectively, the resulting information of this thesis will aid in the design, management and reconstruction of the Prairie Corridor on Haines Branch (Lincoln, Nebraska) by providing recommendations tailored to enhance and sustain diverse bee communities.

Advisor: Judy Y. Wu-Smart

Included in

Entomology Commons