Fostering research, education, and collaboration on biological conservation and natural resource management in Alaska and the Arctic
Pollinator Diversity and Conservation Status
The status and trends of pollinating insects is an increasing ecological and economic concern nationally and globally. While threats from pesticide application and large-scale habitat conversion are not large in Alaska, many species may be vulnerable in the face of changing climates, alternation in plant communities and habitats, and disease. One bumble bee in Alaska, Bombus occidentalis, has declined across its range and has been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Other species have narrow host specificity or nesting requirements. For example, the larval host plants of the yellow Apollo butterfly (Parnassius eversmanni) are restricted to three plant species in Alaska that are rarely abundant.
For the majority of bumble bee species in Alaska, baseline information on distribution, relative abundance, and habitat associations are incomplete (however, see Philip and Ferris 2016). Synthesis of existing data and targeted surveys can yield substantial information at the state level. In collaboration with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, we have initiated efforts to collate existing bumble bee and butterfly occurrence records in Alaska and assign conservation status ranks that adhere to protocols developed by NatureServe. Below, we summarize global and state level ranks of 23 bumble bees and 21 butterflies known to occur in Alaska based on existing museum and academic institution records.