Professor John Hafernik and seven student researchers recently took
part in a scientific sting operation. The assignment? Track down and
count the bees dwelling in underground nests, trees and other suspected
hideouts inside the Presidio.
The study was the first in a series launched last year by the Presidio
to take inventory of the organisms dwelling inside the 1,480-acre park
just south of the Golden Gate Bridge. "The loss of pollinators
has become a global concern," Hafernik says.
Colorful traps placed in a variety of areas inside the Presidio gates,
from recently restored woodland areas to coastal bluffs, were used as
lure for the visual insects. From March to October, the peak foraging
time for bees, the team collected 2,418 bees, representing at least
Students identified and pinned the majority of the bees now on display
in the University's etymology museum; several small John Does sent to
experts at the University of California, Davis, are still awaiting identification.
"It is hard to imagine so many species of bees,
but most of them are very small, solitary and unnoticeable, and do not
resemble our image of what a typical bee is," says Vicki Moore,
a grad student in ecology and systematic biology.
She and her fellow researchers were encouraged by their
findings, which suggest that the Presidio's diversity of habitats encourages
a thriving community of pollinators.
The Presidio site with the greatest bee diversity had a good supply
of both native and non-native plants."People are accustomed to
thinking of non-native species as poor for an ecosystem, and they often
are in many respects," Moore says, "but for many pollinating
insects, non-native plants provide nectar resources during the times
of the year when native plants may no longer be in flower."
Hafernik's next study at the Presidio will focus on the park's butterflies
and damsel flies.
-- Adrianne Bee