Data Sheet_1_Geographic Biases in Bee Research Limits Understanding of Species Distribution and Response to Anthropogenic Disturbance.PDF

Habitat loss and degradation due to agricultural intensification and urbanization are key threats facing wild pollinators, especially bees. However, data on the distribution and abundance of most of the world's 20,000+ bee species is lacking, making it difficult to assess the effects of anthropogenic disturbance through time. Moreover, there are geographic biases in the study of bees creating gaps in our understanding of species distributions and regional patterns of diversity. Research efforts are often focused around cities or field stations associated with universities and other research institutions. In this perspectives paper, we provide examples of geographic bias in knowledge regarding bee species distributions using recently collected data from Michigan and Colorado, USA—two states with published species checklists. We illustrate how a limited sampling effort can advance knowledge about bee species distributions, yielding species occurrence records at local and regional scales. Given the implications of geographic biases, we recommend future research efforts focus on poorly sampled geographic regions, especially those affected by anthropogenic disturbance, in order to expand our understanding of human impacts on wild bee species. Sampling across a broader geographic area will provide critical information for taxonomy and predictive models of bee species distributions and diversity. We encourage researchers to plan future studies with consideration of strategies to avoid oversampling local bee populations, the taxonomic expertise required to identify specimens, and resources necessary to voucher specimens.