The Ohio State University at Newark

Ohio State Newark Professor Funded by ODOT for State-Wide Survey of Bumble Bees

NEWARK, Ohio, July 18, 2017 – The Ohio State University at Newark Associate Professor of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology Karen Goodell will work with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to protect at-risk bumble bee populations in the state. ODOT recently selected Goodell’s research proposal for funding as part of its State Planning and Research program. The information Goodell collects will help ODOT plan future transportation projects to minimize the impact on these species and their habitats.

“It’s exciting that ODOT is taking a leadership position on endangered bees,” said Goodell. “We hope that the work will also provide important population and ecological data on bumble bees in Ohio that will help us conserve all bumble bee species and related bees that we rely on for pollination.”

The State Planning and Research program is a federally-required program used to fund transportation planning and research in Ohio. Goodell will conduct statewide surveys for the endangered Rusty Patch Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis) and the related yellow-banded bumble bee (Bombus terricola). She will also document distributions of all bumble bee species over a two-year period. The target species have experienced recent population declines and are, or are likely to be, classified as critically endangered as part of the federal Endangered Species Act. The research will provide information about habitat requirements for the rare species and tools for determining their presence, or likely absence, in certain areas.

“I’ll be working with a colleague, Dr. Randy Mitchell, at the University of Akron, ODOT, the Xerces Society - an international insect conservation organization, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and a network of volunteer bee watchers to survey the state for bumble bees,” said Goodell. To help us locate potential locations to survey, we have asked volunteers and citizen scientists to send us suggestions – natural areas with plenty of flowers in the spring and summer that are at least 1 acre in size.

The group has initiated a large citizen science project called “The Ohio Bee Atlas” that is administered through iNaturalist, an online database app. Anyone can sign up for an account, join the Ohio Bee Atlas project and then post photos of bees that they see anywhere in the state.

“It is analogous to Facebook for nature nerds,” said Goodell. “Anyone can sign up for an account then post photos of bees or purported bees. The identifications are crowd sourced. Bee biologists and amateur entomologists can identify the species from the photos. We are encouraging interested individuals to post bumble bee photos to help us to identify places across the state that we should survey.” To sign up and participate in the project visit: Ohio Bee Atlas

Goodell has taught introductory biology courses at Ohio State Newark for more than a decade. She also trains graduate and undergraduate students in ecological research. Her research investigates the population and community ecology of native bees. She has examined factors influencing the population dynamics of native bee species, including mine reclamation, control of invasive species, pesticides and parasites. Other current projects in her lab investigate the responses of bees to native prairie plantings on reclaimed mines, the extent to which some native bees are limited by nest site availability, and the tradeoffs between controlling pests and pollinator health in cultivated pumpkins and squash.

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