Over the past year I have helped Dr. Scott McArt from Cornell University to get preliminary data and write an NIH grant to investigate the spread of parasites in wild bees. It has now been confirmed that the 5 year, $2 million grant has been awarded!
The grant also includes Professor Steve Ellner and Professor Chris Myers (both at Cornell), Professor Lynn Adler at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Dr Rebecca Irwin at North Carolina State University; and Dr Quinn McFrederick University of California, Riverside.
Over the course of the grant, we will look to model the transmission of parasites by developing a technique that looks at broad traits shared among species. Such techniques are a growing trend among community ecologists but have never been used with pollinators and plants. This method will simplify how data are processed; traditional taxonomic approaches consider the relative importance of each individual bee and flower within an ecosystem to tease out patterns of interactions and transmission.
The results will help inform land managers, farmers, landscapers and others which wildflower traits promote bee health and which may spread disease.