Bombus impatiens Colony Growth in the Context of Two Biofuel Crops and their Surrounding Landscape
Rich, Alyson G.
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In recent attempts to replace fossil fuels, biofuels have become a popular field of interest and research. This increase in demand for biofuel crops requires the use of agricultural landscapes that could harm or sustain the environment. Some biomass crops such as corn fields require a lot of maintanance and are detrimental to our environment. Other biofuel crops such as those from cellulosic biomass do not require high maintanace and are preferable to the environment. Allocating vast quatities of land, biofuel crops should provided diversity and resources to beneficial arthropods that offer many services to our environment, including pollination. One important arthropod in the service of pollination is the species Bombus impatiens. In this study we researched how different growth variables of colonies from the bumblebee species, Bombus impatiens, would be affected by two biofuel crops. We also tested how surrounding landscapes (based on perennial proportion) of these biofuel crops affect colony growth. Experimental colonies were placed in biofuel crops of corn and prairie. Colonies from prairie biofuel crops had a greater weight gain difference along with overall weight. We also found that prairie colonies produced more queens over the experimental period. When comparing sites based on surrounding landscapes, prairie and corn with low perennial proportion honey pots were more abundant than in corn fields with high perennial proportion. Overall our results demonstrate that mixed prairie biofuels provide bumblebees with more resources for better overall fitness.