A comparison of bee communities between primary and mature secondary forests in the longleaf pine ecosystem
Much of the once-dominant longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) ecosystem has been lost from the Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States and only a few scattered remnants of primary forest remain. Despite much interest in understanding and restoring this ecosystem, relatively few studies have attempted to characterize or assess the conservation status of the longleaf bee fauna. The objective of this study was to compare the diversity and composition of bee communities between primary and mature secondary (>100 years old) fire-maintained forests in Georgia and Florida. We used colored pan traps to sample bees at three primary and four secondary locations divided between two regions characterized by sandy (Eglin Air Force Base) or clayey (Red Hills) soils. There were no overall differences between primary and secondary forests in bee richness, diversity, evenness or abundance. Community composition differed among locations but we found no evidence that primary remnants provide critical habitat to sensitive bee species.