Restoration and succession of a bee community in southern St. Catharines, Ontario, within a ten-year study period
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A wild bee community in southern St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, was studied from 2003 to 2012 to analyze the effects of primary succession on abundance and diversity. At a former landfill site near Brock University, which previously contained no bees, the number of bees and bee species was expected to increase rapidly following measures to restore the site to grassy meadow habitat. The Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis (IDH) states that over time, succession occurs. Abundance and diversity increase initially and peak when pioneers coexist with specialized species, then decline because of competitive exclusion. Alternatively, abundance and diversity may continue to increase and stabilize without declining. Bees were sampled repeatedly among years from newer restoration sites (revegetated in 2003), older restoration sites on the periphery of the former landfill (revegetated in 2000), and nearby low disturbance grassy field (i.e. control) sites. In the newer sites, bee abundance and diversity increased then decreased while in older restoration and control sites mainly decreased. This pattern of succession matches the general predictions of the IDH, although declines were at least partially related to drought. By 2006, total bee abundance levels converged among all sites, indicating rapid colonization and succession, and by 2012 diversity levels were similar among sites as well, suggesting that the bee community was fully restored or nearly so within the ten-year study period.