PROJECT

Impact of utility-scale solar development on native bees in the Mojave and Sonoran Desert

The goal of this research is to characterize, assess and quantify the impacts of utility-scale solar energy (USSE) installations on desert pollinators, especially native bees, and the services they provide to the plants in the ecosystems in which they live

The goal of this research is to characterize, assess and quantify the impacts of utility-scale solar energy (USSE) installations on desert pollinators, especially native bees, and the services they provide to the plants in the ecosystems in which they live

The goal of this research is to characterize, assess and quantify the impacts of utility-scale solar energy (USSE) installations on desert pollinators, especially native bees, and the services they provide to the plants in the ecosystems in which they live. Sixty to 90% of flowering plants require animal pollinators. The Mojave Desert represents a hotspot of bee biodiversity totaling 643 species of bees in just its eastern portion, corresponding to its rich botanical diversity of 1512 species. Pollinator population abundance and species richness are correlated with the abundance and plant species diversity. We are focusing our experimental efforts on the pollinators in proximity to USSE sites in the Mojave and Colorado Desert regions near Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve. We are identifying key undisturbed habitats that match biotic communities that the USSE sites occupy to test whether pollinator community biodiversity and abundance has changed due to USSE installations. This project also entailed developing the complete geographic distribution of bee species from over 19,000 museum specimen records and collection records in the desert in 2016.

Our researchers count on donor’s generosity to fund:
  • Travel and accommodations to our field sites where we conduct empirical investigations on the ground
  • Salaries and stipends for student internships, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars

Thank you for making your gift today and supporting our mission at this important time. The Wild Energy Initiative of the John Muir Institute of the Environment facilitates impartial research and education on interactions between energy development and Earth, including its systems and species, to address exigent sustainability issues.