Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Iowa
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Iowa Project

Imperiled bumble bee occupancy and health status in Iowa

May 2022 - December 2024


Participating Agencies

  • U.S. Geological Survey
M.S. student Kelsey Shepherd captures a bumble bee to identify it during a survey to determine occupancy of rusty patched bumble bees and American bumble bees in northeast Iowa.

The rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) is a federally Endangered species that was once widespread across the eastern U.S. and Upper Midwest. While the rusty patched bumble bee is the only species in this region currently on the Endangered Species List, many other bumble bee species have been documented to be in decline as well, including the American bumble bee, Bombus pensylvanicus. Creation, restoration and maintenance of habitat in the Midwestern region, therefore, may be crucial for threatened species’ recovery, and will also support priorities for conservation of pollinators more broadly. This project uses surveys of sites throughout Iowa to better understand the local and landscape habitat characteristics that influence the distribution and occurrence of rusty patched and American bumble bees. Additionally, we are taking measurements of individual bees to understand bee health. This work will inform habitat management strategies for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program as well as targets for rusty patched bumble bee recovery planning.

Presentations Presentation Date
Shepherd, K., A.M. Tucker, E. Ibarra-Garibay, and A. Toth. 2024. Evaluating occupancy and habitat associations of rusty patched (Bombus affinis) and American (Bombus pensylvanicus) bumble bees in Iowa. Oral presentation at the Winter Meeting of the Iowa Chapter of The Wildlife Society. Ames, IA. February 2024