CORVALLIS, Ore. - Groundbreaking research released this month has revealed that wild bee populations are thriving in areas where severe forest fires have impacted the landscape.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Oregon State University College of Forestry over a two-year period and published last week in the journal "Ecosphere."
Its findings are the first ever to indicate that the level wildfire severity within a region is a strong predictor of bee volume and diversity.
Animal pollinators, like wild bees, effect the propagation of roughly 90 percent of the flowering plants on earth, including many cash crops. Making them of critical importance to the world’s estimated $100 billion agrarian-based economy.
Scientists trapped bees at 43 locations across an area of 50,000 acres in Southern Oregon that was blackened by a severe wildfire in 2013.
Their samples showed there were 20 times more individual bees present, and 11 times more bee species captured in places which had recently experienced a higher severity of wildfire activity when compared to those that had been impacted by fires of a lower magnitude.
Project researchers concluded this contrast is due to the fact that impacts from a less severe fire are typically confined to low-growing vegetation where wild bees are found in greater numbers, whereas more severe blazes tend to strike in places with a more open canopy and cause fewer impacts to the forest’s understory.
The research also supports mounting scientific evidence that a greater amount of overall biodiversity is commonly found in forests which are seral, or at the beginning stages of their development or redevelopment.