Shockingly little is known about how arthropods respond to land transformation as a result of urbanization. We compared the structure of bee (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) communities in two flowering seasons (post-monsoonal bloom in September 1998 and vernal bloom in April 1999) among four types of urban land use in the Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area (xeriscaped residential yards, mesiscaped [turf grass] residential yards, urban desert remnant, and natural desert areas on the fringe of the metropolitan area). Richness and abundance of bees were generally lower in residential areas than in desert areas, with desert areas on the fringe of the metro area possessing the highest diversity of all sites. Residential yards that utilized xeric landscaping had a more diverse bee community than did mesic yards, particularly in late summer. Although bee community structure was apparently unaffected by the density of local habitat features (native and exotic trees, shrubs, cacti, and herbaceous plants in addition to human-built structures), the types of habitat features do appear to influence the number and types of bees present in an area. These results suggest that urban development can be designed to promote the conservation of bees. Specifically, preservation of desert and greater use of xeric landscaping rather than mesiscaping may help preserve this ecologically and economically vital group of organisms.
Keywords: Urban ecology, Sonoran Desert
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