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Re: [beemonitoring] On squash bee, surveys, and the death of insects

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  • John S. Ascher
    All: Well said Sam! a good survey methodology demonstrates low methodological variance and low bias Maybe for ecologists (i.e. worthy scientists as opposed
    Message 1 of 8 , Sep 4, 2010
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      All:

      Well said Sam!

      "a good survey methodology demonstrates low methodological variance and
      low bias"

      Maybe for ecologists (i.e. worthy scientists as opposed to stamp
      collectors like me), but for systematists the goal is often to bias the
      sample as much as possible in favor of collecting the rarer sex of a
      species of interest. The concern in this case is with effectiveness; do we
      catch enough of the target taxon to achieve our scientific goals (and they
      are scientific, although ecologists routinely imply otherwise) without
      squandering time, plane and vehicle fuel, etc.? We don't necessarily care
      about methodological variance or, more generally, how the catch was made.
      We only care that the the target taxa are caught, preferably without the
      need to slaughter innocent bystanders such as honey bees and common sweat
      bees (routinely caught en masse by ecologists for sake of completeness).
      Our goal is often simply to demonstrating the presence of one or a few
      species, rather than to prove the absence of species, an highly
      problematic task that seems to be a primary goal of many bee surveys but
      requires highly particular methods that may (or may not) entail killing a
      lot of bees.

      By using a highly effective method heavily biased in favor of one or a few
      target species (or particular sexes of these) we can obviate the need to
      slaughter all bees at a site. Why kill all honey bees and Halictus ligatus
      when you only wish to sample squash bees as quickly as possible? Any
      method can be misused (see T-shirt clad straw men of previous posting),
      but this new method seems worthy of testing for certain purposes, such as
      quickly obtaining series of undescribed host specialist bees from remote
      areas (see posting by Laurence Packer).

      As Sam points out, we don't know very much about this new method yet, so
      why has it provoked so many feelings as opposed to thoughts? With
      application of logic followed by experiment, surely the method can be
      modified so as to prevent killing of bees, as unprecedented ability to
      target squash bees would allow these to be caught in the necessary numbers
      (which may be rather large as Sam notes) very quickly before there is too
      much collatoral damage to non-target civilian populations.

      John




      > All:
      >
      > What interesting and passionate people we have on this listserv. This
      > current thread reminds me of the differences between two of my favorite
      > poets the Russian American amateur butterfly taxonomist Vladimir Nabokov
      > and the nature observant Emily Dickinson. Their philosophies differ in
      > similar ways (poems at end of this email.).
      >
      > There are two components being discussed here, ..The death of bees via our
      > collecting actions and the best approach to a survey of bees in a
      > research, inventory, or monitoring situation.
      >
      > How we approach the moral issue regarding the death of insects is a
      > personal one, we all have differences in what we think, how we feel, and
      > how we transmit those feelings about our direct actions that lead to an
      > insect's death. Philosophically and logically, there is no right or wrong
      > here, there are simply differences, we can argue and persuade, but in the
      > end no statement can be made outside our personal feelings. Because it
      > involves passions and feelings its best to be careful in how it is
      > discussed and is similar to the arenas of religion and politics in what it
      > can do to relationships.
      >
      > In terms of the use of a trapping technique (for example the flower trap
      > that stimulated this discussion) there are some statistical and
      > mathematical guidelines that can be helpful in this discussion. In fact,
      > I have just returned from teaching a week long course (with several FWS
      > statisticians) at the National Conservation Training Center on developing
      > surveys for animals and plants and we worked with everything from Caribou
      > to Spring Snails. So these ideas are fresh in my mind.
      >
      > It all depends on your objectives.
      >
      > In the broadest sense a good survey methodology demonstrates low
      > methodological variance and low bias. In other words you would like a
      > strong relationship between the number of things counted or captured and
      > the actual number of things out there you want to talk about and that your
      > technique of choice does that efficiently and is not adding a huge
      > amount of noise to those counts (which would require boosting sample sizes
      > to achieve the same precision). This relationship is never perfect and is
      > almost never evaluated. For example, off the top of my head I can't
      > recall any survey of bees using any technique that evaluated whether their
      > visual counts, nettings, trappings were unbiased in relationship to the
      > real populations as it is very difficult to either estimate or determine
      > how many bees are really in a location at any moment in time (and lots of
      > additional difficulties of even defining things as simple as "area" or
      > "density," but I am off topic).
      >
      > At the next level, your objectives drive what survey technique is used and
      > how bees are sampled and consequently, how many bees are sacrificed. So,
      > in the case of the flower trap it may be the least variable and most
      > unbiased way to survey bees for any given crop or situation or it may not
      > be. We do not know as no tests have been made nor has the technique been
      > extensively deployed and observed to see if Alex's results are replicable
      > and what factors might contribute to how many bees go into the trap and
      > what the sex rations and species compositions become. We can't know until
      > those surveys are done. At this point Alex (in my mind) has made a
      > welcome and major contribution in discovering this phenomenon and now we
      > must test it to see how well it works out well statistically in other
      > areas and perhaps has applications for difficult to survey crops like
      > Apple. It makes sense that flower traps may be very useful to the study
      > of flowering plants as they would appear to better target the bees of
      > interest, increase capture rates in situations where captures are low,
      > permit accurate and verifiable species identification, have low observer
      > bias, and are inexpensive. On the negative side they may (or may not....)
      > kill many bees within a study area and that may conflict with goals for
      > retaining bees on site or simply be in conflict with the moral principles
      > of the project and participants.
      >
      > Again at a broad level there are some generalities that can be applied to
      > survey techniques.
      >
      > Traps are less affected by observer bias than counts and net captures and
      > are usually cheaper and easier to obtain large sample sizes per unit
      > effort.
      >
      > All else being equal large numbers of counts or captures are
      > mathematically more useful in a monitoring or research study than low
      > numbers as when you have low numbers your sampling distribution runs in
      > the zero wall as you cannot have negative animals and the calculations of
      > variances and sample noise is much larger when dealing with zeros. The
      > difference between 0 and 1 is much greater than 10 and 11. With low
      > counts you can your ability to detect difference and are required to
      > collect more samples to make up those differences or pool across samples
      > which ultimately may mean increasing your effort and even the number of
      > insects collected to overcome there statistical issues.
      >
      > Ah, poetry.....
      >
      > On Discovering a Butterfly
      >
      > I found it and I named it, being versed
      > in taxonomic Latin; thus became
      > godfather to an insect and its first
      > describer -- and I want no other fame.
      >
      > Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
      > and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
      > in the secluded stronghold where we keep
      > type specimens it will transcend its dust.
      >
      > Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
      > poems that take a thousand years to die
      > but ape the immortality of this
      > red label on a little butterfly.
      >
      > -- Vladimir Nabokov
      >
      > ARCTURUS is his other name,?
      > I ?d rather call him star!
      > It ?s so unkind of science
      > To go and interfere!
      >
      > I pull a flower from the woods,? 5
      > A monster with a glass
      > Computes the stamens in a breath,
      > And has her in a class.
      >
      > Whereas I took the butterfly
      > Aforetime in my hat, 10
      > He sits erect in cabinets,
      > The clover-bells forgot.
      >
      > What once was heaven, is zenith now.
      > Where I proposed to go
      > When time?s brief masquerade was done, 15
      > Is mapped, and charted too!
      >
      > What if the poles should frisk about
      > And stand upon their heads!
      > I hope I ?m ready for the worst,
      > Whatever prank betides! 20
      >
      > Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven?s changed!
      > I hope the children there
      > Won?t be new-fashioned when I come,
      > And laugh at me, and stare!
      >
      > I hope the father in the skies 25
      > Will lift his little girl,?
      > Old-fashioned, naughty, everything,?
      > Over the stile of pearl!
      >
      > - Emily Dickinson
      >
      > sam


      --
      John S. Ascher, Ph.D.
      Bee Database Project Manager
      Division of Invertebrate Zoology
      American Museum of Natural History
      Central Park West @ 79th St.
      New York, NY 10024-5192
      work phone: 212-496-3447
      mobile phone: 917-407-0378
    • Laurence Packer
      And we should point out that easily identified species such as Halictus ligatus are usually the ones where there is a larger than average repository of
      Message 2 of 8 , Sep 4, 2010
      • 0 Attachment
        And we should point out that "easily" identified "species'' such as Halictus ligatus are usually the ones where there is a larger than average repository of cryptic taxa awaiting discovery.  Halictus ligatus is one species north of DC and west of the appallachians, it is a second species (poeyi) on the coastal south west (though maybe those have now been blown as propagules to invade Nova Scotia) and both co-occur in the piedmont (where only genetic methods will enable identification as far as I am aware).  There is now a third species (probably townsendi) in southern  Mexico and Guatemala that would have been called ligatus until now and we know not where true ligatus (which is in CA) and the southern Mexican species boundary is.  The Caribbean island "ligatus" are now known to be poeyi.

        So, kill large numbers of Halictus "ligatus" in some areas, but not others.

        cheers

        laurence


        From: John S. Ascher <ascher@...>
        To: Sam Droege <sdroege@...>
        Cc: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Sat, September 4, 2010 11:50:32 AM
        Subject: Re: [beemonitoring] On squash bee, surveys, and the death of insects

         



        All:

        Well said Sam!

        "a good survey methodology demonstrates low methodological variance and
        low bias"

        Maybe for ecologists (i.e. worthy scientists as opposed to stamp
        collectors like me), but for systematists the goal is often to bias the
        sample as much as possible in favor of collecting the rarer sex of a
        species of interest. The concern in this case is with effectiveness; do we
        catch enough of the target taxon to achieve our scientific goals (and they
        are scientific, although ecologists routinely imply otherwise) without
        squandering time, plane and vehicle fuel, etc.? We don't necessarily care
        about methodological variance or, more generally, how the catch was made.
        We only care that the the target taxa are caught, preferably without the
        need to slaughter innocent bystanders such as honey bees and common sweat
        bees (routinely caught en masse by ecologists for sake of completeness).
        Our goal is often simply to demonstrating the presence of one or a few
        species, rather than to prove the absence of species, an highly
        problematic task that seems to be a primary goal of many bee surveys but
        requires highly particular methods that may (or may not) entail killing a
        lot of bees.

        By using a highly effective method heavily biased in favor of one or a few
        target species (or particular sexes of these) we can obviate the need to
        slaughter all bees at a site. Why kill all honey bees and Halictus ligatus
        when you only wish to sample squash bees as quickly as possible? Any
        method can be misused (see T-shirt clad straw men of previous posting),
        but this new method seems worthy of testing for certain purposes, such as
        quickly obtaining series of undescribed host specialist bees from remote
        areas (see posting by Laurence Packer).

        As Sam points out, we don't know very much about this new method yet, so
        why has it provoked so many feelings as opposed to thoughts? With
        application of logic followed by experiment, surely the method can be
        modified so as to prevent killing of bees, as unprecedented ability to
        target squash bees would allow these to be caught in the necessary numbers
        (which may be rather large as Sam notes) very quickly before there is too
        much collatoral damage to non-target civilian populations.

        John

        > All:
        >
        > What interesting and passionate people we have on this listserv. This
        > current thread reminds me of the differences between two of my favorite
        > poets the Russian American amateur butterfly taxonomist Vladimir Nabokov
        > and the nature observant Emily Dickinson. Their philosophies differ in
        > similar ways (poems at end of this email.).
        >
        > There are two components being discussed here, ..The death of bees via our
        > collecting actions and the best approach to a survey of bees in a
        > research, inventory, or monitoring situation.
        >
        > How we approach the moral issue regarding the death of insects is a
        > personal one, we all have differences in what we think, how we feel, and
        > how we transmit those feelings about our direct actions that lead to an
        > insect's death. Philosophically and logically, there is no right or wrong
        > here, there are simply differences, we can argue and persuade, but in the
        > end no statement can be made outside our personal feelings. Because it
        > involves passions and feelings its best to be careful in how it is
        > discussed and is similar to the arenas of religion and politics in what it
        > can do to relationships.
        >
        > In terms of the use of a trapping technique (for example the flower trap
        > that stimulated this discussion) there are some statistical and
        > mathematical guidelines that can be helpful in this discussion. In fact,
        > I have just returned from teaching a week long course (with several FWS
        > statisticians) at the National Conservation Training Center on developing
        > surveys for animals and plants and we worked with everything from Caribou
        > to Spring Snails. So these ideas are fresh in my mind.
        >
        > It all depends on your objectives.
        >
        > In the broadest sense a good survey methodology demonstrates low
        > methodological variance and low bias. In other words you would like a
        > strong relationship between the number of things counted or captured and
        > the actual number of things out there you want to talk about and that your
        > technique of choice does that efficiently and is not adding a huge
        > amount of noise to those counts (which would require boosting sample sizes
        > to achieve the same precision). This relationship is never perfect and is
        > almost never evaluated. For example, off the top of my head I can't
        > recall any survey of bees using any technique that evaluated whether their
        > visual counts, nettings, trappings were unbiased in relationship to the
        > real populations as it is very difficult to either estimate or determine
        > how many bees are really in a location at any moment in time (and lots of
        > additional difficulties of even defining things as simple as "area" or
        > "density," but I am off topic).
        >
        > At the next level, your objectives drive what survey technique is used and
        > how bees are sampled and consequently, how many bees are sacrificed. So,
        > in the case of the flower trap it may be the least variable and most
        > unbiased way to survey bees for any given crop or situation or it may not
        > be. We do not know as no tests have been made nor has the technique been
        > extensively deployed and observed to see if Alex's results are replicable
        > and what factors might contribute to how many bees go into the trap and
        > what the sex rations and species compositions become. We can't know until
        > those surveys are done. At this point Alex (in my mind) has made a
        > welcome and major contribution in discovering this phenomenon and now we
        > must test it to see how well it works out well statistically in other
        > areas and perhaps has applications for difficult to survey crops like
        > Apple. It makes sense that flower traps may be very useful to the study
        > of flowering plants as they would appear to better target the bees of
        > interest, increase capture rates in situations where captures are low,
        > permit accurate and verifiable species identification, have low observer
        > bias, and are inexpensive. On the negative side they may (or may not....)
        > kill many bees within a study area and that may conflict with goals for
        > retaining bees on site or simply be in conflict with the moral principles
        > of the project and participants.
        >
        > Again at a broad level there are some generalities that can be applied to
        > survey techniques.
        >
        > Traps are less affected by observer bias than counts and net captures and
        > are usually cheaper and easier to obtain large sample sizes per unit
        > effort.
        >
        > All else being equal large numbers of counts or captures are
        > mathematically more useful in a monitoring or research study than low
        > numbers as when you have low numbers your sampling distribution runs in
        > the zero wall as you cannot have negative animals and the calculations of
        > variances and sample noise is much larger when dealing with zeros. The
        > difference between 0 and 1 is much greater than 10 and 11. With low
        > counts you can your ability to detect difference and are required to
        > collect more samples to make up those differences or pool across samples
        > which ultimately may mean increasing your effort and even the number of
        > insects collected to overcome there statistical issues.
        >
        > Ah, poetry.....
        >
        > On Discovering a Butterfly
        >
        > I found it and I named it, being versed
        > in taxonomic Latin; thus became
        > godfather to an insect and its first
        > describer -- and I want no other fame.
        >
        > Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
        > and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
        > in the secluded stronghold where we keep
        > type specimens it will transcend its dust.
        >
        > Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
        > poems that take a thousand years to die
        > but ape the immortality of this
        > red label on a little butterfly.
        >
        > -- Vladimir Nabokov
        >
        > ARCTURUS is his other name,?
        > I ?d rather call him star!
        > It ?s so unkind of science
        > To go and interfere!
        >
        > I pull a flower from the woods,? 5
        > A monster with a glass
        > Computes the stamens in a breath,
        > And has her in a class.
        >
        > Whereas I took the butterfly
        > Aforetime in my hat, 10
        > He sits erect in cabinets,
        > The clover-bells forgot.
        >
        > What once was heaven, is zenith now.
        > Where I proposed to go
        > When time?s brief masquerade was done, 15
        > Is mapped, and charted too!
        >
        > What if the poles should frisk about
        > And stand upon their heads!
        > I hope I ?m ready for the worst,
        > Whatever prank betides! 20
        >
        > Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven?s changed!
        > I hope the children there
        > Won?t be new-fashioned when I come,
        > And laugh at me, and stare!
        >
        > I hope the father in the skies 25
        > Will lift his little girl,?
        > Old-fashioned, naughty, everything,?
        > Over the stile of pearl!
        >
        > - Emily Dickinson
        >
        > sam

        --
        John S. Ascher, Ph.D.
        Bee Database Project Manager
        Division of Invertebrate Zoology
        American Museum of Natural History
        Central Park West @ 79th St.
        New York, NY 10024-5192
        work phone: 212-496-3447
        mobile phone: 917-407-0378


      • Peter Bernhardt
        Dear Sam: I like the poetry of Emily Dickinson, the novels of Vlad-the-Impaler-Nabokov (The National Lampoon, 1972) and I ve killed hundreds of bees since
        Message 3 of 8 , Sep 6, 2010
        • 0 Attachment
          Dear Sam:

          I like the poetry of Emily Dickinson, the novels of Vlad-the-Impaler-Nabokov (The National Lampoon, 1972) and I've killed hundreds of bees since 1974.  I'm just not crazy about pan traps.  They may be great, cheap tools for entomologists but not for serious pollination biologists.  Water and pollen mix far too well.  A drowned bee loses its loads rather quickly.  Adding a squeaky clean specimen to the collection (with bee DNA intact) is fine for you people but you are destroying data for the next person to come along.  Seriously, killing a bee without immersing it in any fluid leaves a legacy to future generations that may be more palynologically inclined.  For example, studies of pinned bumblebees showed they were carrying the smears of pink lady's slippers (Cypripedium acaule) decades after they were collected.  As I write this paragraph Dr. Tiffany Knight's post-docs at Washington U.(MO) are removing the pollen from bees collected in Illinois by Robertson (yes, that collection!) to see what flowers the bees visited before they were caught back in the 1920's.  This could turn into an important study in community ecology of a much-changed landscape.  Just because you saw the bee visit a squash blossom before it drowned in your pan trap doesn't mean it spent its last foraging bout visiting nothing but squash blossoms.  

          Sincerely, Peter       

          On Sat, Sep 4, 2010 at 7:31 AM, Sam Droege <sdroege@...> wrote:
           



          All:


          What interesting and passionate people we have on this listserv.  This current thread reminds me of the differences between two of my favorite poets the Russian American amateur butterfly taxonomist Vladimir Nabokov and the nature observant Emily Dickinson.  Their philosophies differ in similar ways (poems at end of this email.).

          There are two components being discussed here, ..The death of bees via our collecting actions and the best approach to a survey of bees in a research, inventory, or monitoring situation.

          How we approach the moral issue regarding the death of insects is a personal one, we all have differences in what we think, how we feel, and how we transmit those feelings about our direct actions that lead to an insect's death.  Philosophically and logically, there is no right or wrong here, there are simply differences, we can argue and persuade, but in the end no statement can be made outside our personal feelings.  Because it involves passions and feelings its best to be careful in how it is discussed and is similar to the arenas of religion and politics in what it can do to relationships.

          In terms of the use of a trapping technique (for example the flower trap that stimulated this discussion) there are some statistical and mathematical guidelines that can be helpful in this discussion.  In fact, I have just returned from teaching a week long course (with several FWS statisticians) at the National Conservation Training Center on developing surveys for animals and plants and we worked with everything from Caribou to Spring Snails.  So these ideas are fresh in my mind.

          It all depends on your objectives.

          In the broadest sense a good survey methodology demonstrates low methodological variance and low bias.  In other words you would like a strong relationship between the number of things counted or captured and the actual number of things out there you want to talk about and that your  technique of choice does that efficiently and  is not adding a huge amount of noise to those counts (which would require boosting sample sizes to achieve the same precision).  This relationship is never perfect and is almost never evaluated.  For example, off the top of my head I can't recall any survey of bees using any technique that evaluated whether their visual counts, nettings, trappings were unbiased in relationship to the real populations as it is very difficult to either estimate or determine how many bees are really in a location at any moment in time (and lots of additional difficulties of even defining things as simple as "area" or "density," but I am off topic).

          At the next level, your objectives drive what survey technique is used and how bees are sampled and consequently, how many bees are sacrificed.  So, in the case of the flower trap it may be the least variable and most unbiased way to survey bees for any given crop or situation or it may not be.  We do not know as no tests have been made nor has the technique been extensively deployed and observed to see if  Alex's results are replicable and what factors might contribute to how many bees go into the trap and what the sex rations and species compositions become.  We can't know until those surveys are done.  At this point Alex (in my mind) has made a welcome and major contribution in discovering this phenomenon and now we must test it to see how well it works out well statistically in other areas and perhaps has applications for difficult to survey crops like Apple.  It makes sense that flower traps may be very useful to the study of flowering plants as they would appear to better target the bees of interest, increase capture rates in situations where captures are low, permit accurate and verifiable species identification, have low observer bias, and are inexpensive.  On the negative side they may (or may not....) kill many bees within a study area and that may conflict with goals for retaining bees on site or simply be in conflict with the moral principles of the project and participants.  

          Again at a broad level there are some generalities that can be applied to survey techniques.  

          Traps are less affected by observer bias than counts and net captures and are usually cheaper and easier to obtain large sample sizes per unit effort.

          All else being equal large numbers of counts or captures are mathematically more useful in a monitoring or research study than low numbers as when you have low numbers your sampling distribution runs in the zero wall as you cannot have negative animals and the calculations of variances and sample noise is much larger when dealing with zeros.  The difference between 0 and 1 is much greater than 10 and 11.     With low counts you can your ability to detect difference and are required to collect more samples to make up those differences or pool across samples which ultimately may mean increasing your effort and even the number of insects collected to overcome there statistical issues.

          Ah, poetry.....


          On Discovering a Butterfly

          I found it and I named it, being versed
          in taxonomic Latin; thus became
          godfather to an insect and its first
          describer -- and I want no other fame.


          Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
          and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
          in the secluded stronghold where we keep
          type specimens it will transcend its dust.


          Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
          poems that take a thousand years to die
          but ape the immortality of this
          red label on a little butterfly.


                  -- Vladimir Nabokov

          ARCTURUS is his other name,—  
          I ’d rather call him star!  
          It ’s so unkind of science  
          To go and interfere!  
             
          I pull a flower from the woods,—         5
          A monster with a glass  
          Computes the stamens in a breath,  
          And has her in a class.  
             
          Whereas I took the butterfly  
          Aforetime in my hat,         10
          He sits erect in cabinets,  
          The clover-bells forgot.  
             
          What once was heaven, is zenith now.  
          Where I proposed to go  
          When time’s brief masquerade was done,         15
          Is mapped, and charted too!  
             
          What if the poles should frisk about  
          And stand upon their heads!  
          I hope I ’m ready for the worst,  
          Whatever prank betides!         20
             
          Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven’s changed!  
          I hope the children there  
          Won’t be new-fashioned when I come,  
          And laugh at me, and stare!  
             
          I hope the father in the skies         25
          Will lift his little girl,—  
          Old-fashioned, naughty, everything,—  
          Over the stile of pearl!

           - Emily Dickinson

          sam


        • Strange, James
          Sam et al., Thanks for your thoughtful posts. It is indeed a diverse group that works on bees. I hate to pick at scabs, but during the flurry of posts last
          Message 4 of 8 , Sep 7, 2010
          • 0 Attachment

            Sam et al.,

             

            Thanks for your thoughtful posts.  It is indeed a diverse group that works on bees.

             

            I hate to pick at scabs, but during the flurry of posts last week I thought it best to walk away and let the holiday weekend temper my thoughts on this issue.  I do want to throw my two cents into the pot as I think this is an important issue.  This is, of course, not about Peponapis or even traps, really.  It is about bees and the ethics of killing them.  And, as it turns out, the easiest way to kill and collect oodles of bees is to trap them.  As Sam rightfully pointed out, we are all going to approach this in different ways, with different feelings about this and, I suspect, those feelings will largely be influenced by the particular work the individual is doing.  And, yes, it depends on our objectives.  It is easy for me to justify the taking of several hundred bees for pathogen or population surveys because I “need” to kill the bees to acquire the data.  I imagine we all perceive similar “needs” for our own work. 

             

            I don’t suppose we need some ethical treatise on the subject of killing bees, but I think that we should be able to bring up the question without too much rancor.  A few simple checks (What are my research goals?  How many specimens do I need to take to achieve those goals?  What are the ups and downs of my particular methodology?) should be employed before any project.  I would add a few other questions to the list.  If I kill bees, how can I maximize the data they generate?  Could I justify this to an ethical review board?  What would Vince do?

             

            I personally don’t find it necessary to know all of the bees that exist in the world; my interests seem to revolve around the more common ones.   However, if you are so inclined, then I have no major beef with your goals.  Yet, I have lately seen several collections that have come out of traps (of various kinds) and I am in general disappointed that the collectors used that method.  For large faunal surveys, they may be an excellent tool, but too many people (and sadly many are students) are using the traps to gather data where trapping is inappropriate.  As Peter mentioned, the pollen is often gone, sometimes the specimens are poorly treated after recovery, or in the case of the vane traps the specimens are broken and brittle.  There is also the issue of by-catch to contend with.  All those unwanted beetles, moths and flies add up.  If the particular trap (e.g. Alex’s Peponapis trap) can reduce the by-catch then I am in favor.  Though I would still argue that in most cases the bees could be observed at the flowers and captured if you are really interested in the visitors to a particular flower.  Perhaps there are other cases where it would be even better applied.

             

            In general I take the philosophy that Jim Cane and Vince Tepedino espoused, which is to say I have reservations about large scale faunal surveys in general.  Where a clear scientific question is posed a priori and the benefits can be seen to outweigh the costs, then by all means, go for it.   While it is interesting to consider the possibility of what we might be able to do if we had a few long series of Bombus affinis as John pointed out, I still have a hard time wishing there were more in collections.  The best series we have of Bombus occidentalis came from Macior’s net collections while studying the pollination of Pedicularis, not from large faunal surveys.  Unfortunately his labeling leaves something to be desired.  A final thought to chew on:  What if a trap turns up a dead Bombus franklini queen?  An undergrad with a net could be trained to photograph and release that same queen.  Would trapping be justified to say “look, the species was extant last week”? 

             

            Thanks for your time and your thoughts,

            Jamie

             

             

            James P. Strange PhD

            Research Entomologist

            USDA-ARS- PIRU

            Logan, UT

            435-797-7151

             

            From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Sam Droege
            Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2010 6:31 AM
            To: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [beemonitoring] On squash bee, surveys, and the death of insects

             

             



            All:


            What interesting and passionate people we have on this listserv.  This current thread reminds me of the differences between two of my favorite poets the Russian American amateur butterfly taxonomist Vladimir Nabokov and the nature observant Emily Dickinson.  Their philosophies differ in similar ways (poems at end of this email.).

            There are two components being discussed here, ..The death of bees via our collecting actions and the best approach to a survey of bees in a research, inventory, or monitoring situation.

            How we approach the moral issue regarding the death of insects is a personal one, we all have differences in what we think, how we feel, and how we transmit those feelings about our direct actions that lead to an insect's death.  Philosophically and logically, there is no right or wrong here, there are simply differences, we can argue and persuade, but in the end no statement can be made outside our personal feelings.  Because it involves passions and feelings its best to be careful in how it is discussed and is similar to the arenas of religion and politics in what it can do to relationships.

            In terms of the use of a trapping technique (for example the flower trap that stimulated this discussion) there are some statistical and mathematical guidelines that can be helpful in this discussion.  In fact, I have just returned from teaching a week long course (with several FWS statisticians) at the National Conservation Training Center on developing surveys for animals and plants and we worked with everything from Caribou to Spring Snails.  So these ideas are fresh in my mind.

            It all depends on your objectives.

            In the broadest sense a good survey methodology demonstrates low methodological variance and low bias.  In other words you would like a strong relationship between the number of things counted or captured and the actual number of things out there you want to talk about and that your  technique of choice does that efficiently and  is not adding a huge amount of noise to those counts (which would require boosting sample sizes to achieve the same precision).  This relationship is never perfect and is almost never evaluated.  For example, off the top of my head I can't recall any survey of bees using any technique that evaluated whether their visual counts, nettings, trappings were unbiased in relationship to the real populations as it is very difficult to either estimate or determine how many bees are really in a location at any moment in time (and lots of additional difficulties of even defining things as simple as "area" or "density," but I am off topic).

            At the next level, your objectives drive what survey technique is used and how bees are sampled and consequently, how many bees are sacrificed.  So, in the case of the flower trap it may be the least variable and most unbiased way to survey bees for any given crop or situation or it may not be.  We do not know as no tests have been made nor has the technique been extensively deployed and observed to see if  Alex's results are replicable and what factors might contribute to how many bees go into the trap and what the sex rations and species compositions become.  We can't know until those surveys are done.  At this point Alex (in my mind) has made a welcome and major contribution in discovering this phenomenon and now we must test it to see how well it works out well statistically in other areas and perhaps has applications for difficult to survey crops like Apple.  It makes sense that flower traps may be very useful to the study of flowering plants as they would appear to better target the bees of interest, increase capture rates in situations where captures are low, permit accurate and verifiable species identification, have low observer bias, and are inexpensive.  On the negative side they may (or may not....) kill many bees within a study area and that may conflict with goals for retaining bees on site or simply be in conflict with the moral principles of the project and participants.  

            Again at a broad level there are some generalities that can be applied to survey techniques.  

            Traps are less affected by observer bias than counts and net captures and are usually cheaper and easier to obtain large sample sizes per unit effort.

            All else being equal large numbers of counts or captures are mathematically more useful in a monitoring or research study than low numbers as when you have low numbers your sampling distribution runs in the zero wall as you cannot have negative animals and the calculations of variances and sample noise is much larger when dealing with zeros.  The difference between 0 and 1 is much greater than 10 and 11.     With low counts you can your ability to detect difference and are required to collect more samples to make up those differences or pool across samples which ultimately may mean increasing your effort and even the number of insects collected to overcome there statistical issues.

            Ah, poetry.....


            On Discovering a Butterfly

            I found it and I named it, being versed
            in taxonomic Latin; thus became
            godfather to an insect and its first
            describer -- and I want no other fame.


            Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
            and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
            in the secluded stronghold where we keep
            type specimens it will transcend its dust.


            Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
            poems that take a thousand years to die
            but ape the immortality of this
            red label on a little butterfly.


                    -- Vladimir Nabokov

            ARCTURUS is his other name,—  
            I ’d rather call him star!  
            It ’s so unkind of science  
            To go and interfere!  
               
            I pull a flower from the woods,—         5
            A monster with a glass  
            Computes the stamens in a breath,  
            And has her in a class.  
               
            Whereas I took the butterfly  
            Aforetime in my hat,         10
            He sits erect in cabinets,  
            The clover-bells forgot.  
               
            What once was heaven, is zenith now.  
            Where I proposed to go  
            When time’s brief masquerade was done,         15
            Is mapped, and charted too!  
               
            What if the poles should frisk about  
            And stand upon their heads!  
            I hope I ’m ready for the worst,  
            Whatever prank betides!         20
               
            Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven’s changed!  
            I hope the children there  
            Won’t be new-fashioned when I come,  
            And laugh at me, and stare!  
               
            I hope the father in the skies         25
            Will lift his little girl,—  
            Old-fashioned, naughty, everything,—  
            Over the stile of pearl!

             - Emily Dickinson

            sam

          • Sam Droege
            Jamie: Well spoken. Your logic is sound and reasonable, but I do want to comment a bit more on large scale surveys and their role in the understanding and
            Message 5 of 8 , Sep 8, 2010
            • 0 Attachment

              Jamie:

              Well spoken.  Your logic is sound and reasonable, but I do want to comment a bit more on large scale surveys and their role in the understanding and conservation of bees, with some additional comments on the said and unsaid ethical dilemmas we all place ourselves in with studying insects.  

              Fundamentally, large scale faunal surveys whose goal is to document what bees are present across numerous locales require a set of objectives, similar to the more localized surveys of individual species, crop use, or behavioral work.   A difference is that to achieve their goals such surveys need to capture and consequently kill and process relatively large number of bees compared to many other types of studies.  As with other studies the same general principals you outline below hold.  It is important to diminish bycatch, process and use what you capture, and generate useful specimens for other groups if at all possible.  

              A theme that arises in some of this correspondence is one that questions whether such faunal studies are necessary or not.  While this is to some extent the purview of the person starting the study to determine and justify to their supervisors and funders...since the question has arisen, it makes some sense to lay out out the pros and cons.  On the con side is that fact that there is mortality of bees and other insects involved.  On the pro side, these surveys provide the material we need to determine status, change, presence of species.  One cannot understand the status of most (note, some species can be surveyed visually, or netted and released, but this would not be the case for most) species without collecting them.  One cannot find populations of rare or unusual specimens, unfortunately, without collecting many common specimens too.  To do taxonomic and molecular work usually require fresh specimens and since about an eighth of the all North American specimens are yet unnamed (fewer now thanks to Jason Gibb's Lasioglossum work) there is much to do...all requiring surveys.

              In most cases collecting likely has little impact on the ultimate welfare of the species, whereas not collecting specimens leaves us in the dark as to the current status and distribution of species.  While I would argue that collecting many Bombus queens from the Pacific Northwest where they all seem to be more than happy to travel long distances to a UV Blue vane or  bowl trap is something to avoid, most other species are not particularly trap happy and are solitary or eusocial.  The average females of these groups would be collected half way through their life cycle leaving progeny behind in their finished cells.   The number of bees collected to the number of bees that remain, is almost always very high.  Netting or bowl trapping repeatedly in area continues to trap large numbers of bees even after continuous trapping, leaving one with the impression that while some bees have been taken out of the system, the region has not been taken out.   Finally, if one looks at the number of collectors, the impact of their individual traps, and extrapolates to the entire landscape...the impact is diminutive...one cannot physically survey that many places to make a difference.

              If, as argued above, long-term bee populations do not suffer from a collecting effect (this needs to be better studied, really it has not been studied at all), then most of us are also caught a bit in the unspoken dilemma of favoring some insect lives more than others.  For this to be resolved, we would need to justify based on some principal that bees are somehow more important than other insects and therefore different ethical standards apply to how they are treated.  For example, think about how many insects are sacrificed when you mow your lawn with a power mower rather than a hand reel mower .... or not mowing at all.  What of those lives?  I know of know programs to diminish mowing that use the argument that thousands of insects are killed in the process.    Pillows and linens contain thousands of dust mites, yet we wash our linens without a thought to those lives lost.  On a species to species basis one cannot really argue that there is some innate superiority to the life of a bee vs the life of a mite.  Yet, that is part of being human as we clearly favor domestic animals over wild (well, at least the public does) and we apply different standards to what we kill directly or kill indirectly through our passivity on issues of land conservation or the simple management of our homes and yards.  I also see this in students of bees who mourn the loss of a charismatic bumblebee, but think nothing of the dozens of sweat bees that are also killed.  The ACUC committee is a good model for applying ethical standards to the treatment of insects, in those documents you will be unlikely to find a notion that one sort of vertebrate is more OK to mistreat than another.  

              In the end we have all come to appreciate the beauty of the bees that we study.  In the process we both objectify and project our values on this group.  This is helpful as it intensifies our desire for their well-being.   But, in the end, this may mean that you and I, as individuals, will favor approaches that differ based not only on scientific credibility, but our personal values.  This is also fine, but problems may arise if we assess the merit of studies on our values rather than their scientific credibility (which, of course, is also a philosophic position open to interpretation).  

              Very tricky!

              sam

              Sam Droege  sdroege@...                      
              w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
              USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
              BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705
              Http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov

              A Noiseless Patient Spider

              A noiseless patient spider,
              I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
              Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
              It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
              Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.


              And you O my soul where you stand,
              Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
              Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
              Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
              Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.


                      -- Walt Whitman



              P Bees are not optional.


              From:"Strange, James" <James.Strange@...>
              To:"Sam Droege" <sdroege@...>
              Cc:<beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com>
              Date:09/07/2010 07:55 PM
              Subject:RE: [beemonitoring] On squash bee, surveys, and the death of insects





              Sam et al.,
               
              Thanks for your thoughtful posts.  It is indeed a diverse group that works on bees.
               
              I hate to pick at scabs, but during the flurry of posts last week I thought it best to walk away and let the holiday weekend temper my thoughts on this issue.  I do want to throw my two cents into the pot as I think this is an important issue.  This is, of course, not about Peponapis or even traps, really.  It is about bees and the ethics of killing them.  And, as it turns out, the easiest way to kill and collect oodles of bees is to trap them.  As Sam rightfully pointed out, we are all going to approach this in different ways, with different feelings about this and, I suspect, those feelings will largely be influenced by the particular work the individual is doing.  And, yes, it depends on our objectives.  It is easy for me to justify the taking of several hundred bees for pathogen or population surveys because I “need” to kill the bees to acquire the data.  I imagine we all perceive similar “needs” for our own work.  
               
              I don’t suppose we need some ethical treatise on the subject of killing bees, but I think that we should be able to bring up the question without too much rancor.  A few simple checks (What are my research goals?  How many specimens do I need to take to achieve those goals?  What are the ups and downs of my particular methodology?) should be employed before any project.  I would add a few other questions to the list.  If I kill bees, how can I maximize the data they generate?  Could I justify this to an ethical review board?  What would Vince do?
               
              I personally don’t find it necessary to know all of the bees that exist in the world; my interests seem to revolve around the more common ones.   However, if you are so inclined, then I have no major beef with your goals.  Yet, I have lately seen several collections that have come out of traps (of various kinds) and I am in general disappointed that the collectors used that method.  For large faunal surveys, they may be an excellent tool, but too many people (and sadly many are students) are using the traps to gather data where trapping is inappropriate.  As Peter mentioned, the pollen is often gone, sometimes the specimens are poorly treated after recovery, or in the case of the vane traps the specimens are broken and brittle.  There is also the issue of by-catch to contend with.  All those unwanted beetles, moths and flies add up.  If the particular trap (e.g. Alex’s Peponapis trap) can reduce the by-catch then I am in favor.  Though I would still argue that in most cases the bees could be observed at the flowers and captured if you are really interested in the visitors to a particular flower.  Perhaps there are other cases where it would be even better applied.
               
              In general I take the philosophy that Jim Cane and Vince Tepedino espoused, which is to say I have reservations about large scale faunal surveys in general.  Where a clear scientific question is posed a priori and the benefits can be seen to outweigh the costs, then by all means, go for it.   While it is interesting to consider the possibility of what we might be able to do if we had a few long series of Bombus affinis as John pointed out, I still have a hard time wishing there were more in collections.  The best series we have of Bombus occidentalis came from Macior’s net collections while studying the pollination of Pedicularis, not from large faunal surveys.  Unfortunately his labeling leaves something to be desired.  A final thought to chew on:  What if a trap turns up a dead Bombus franklini queen?  An undergrad with a net could be trained to photograph and release that same queen.  Would trapping be justified to say “look, the species was extant last week”?  
               
              Thanks for your time and your thoughts,
              Jamie
               
               
              James P. Strange PhD
              Research Entomologist
              USDA-ARS- PIRU
              Logan, UT
              435-797-7151
               
              From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Sam Droege
              Sent:
              Saturday, September 04, 2010 6:31 AM
              To:
              beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
              Subject:
              [beemonitoring] On squash bee, surveys, and the death of insects

               
               



              All:


              What interesting and passionate people we have on this listserv.  This current thread reminds me of the differences between two of my favorite poets the Russian American amateur butterfly taxonomist Vladimir Nabokov and the nature observant Emily Dickinson.  Their philosophies differ in similar ways (poems at end of this email.).


              There are two components being discussed here, ..The death of bees via our collecting actions and the best approach to a survey of bees in a research, inventory, or monitoring situation.


              How we approach the moral issue regarding the death of insects is a personal one, we all have differences in what we think, how we feel, and how we transmit those feelings about our direct actions that lead to an insect's death.  Philosophically and logically, there is no right or wrong here, there are simply differences, we can argue and persuade, but in the end no statement can be made outside our personal feelings.  Because it involves passions and feelings its best to be careful in how it is discussed and is similar to the arenas of religion and politics in what it can do to relationships.


              In terms of the use of a trapping technique (for example the flower trap that stimulated this discussion) there are some statistical and mathematical guidelines that can be helpful in this discussion.  In fact, I have just returned from teaching a week long course (with several FWS statisticians) at the National Conservation Training Center on developing surveys for animals and plants and we worked with everything from Caribou to Spring Snails.  So these ideas are fresh in my mind.


              It all depends on your objectives.


              In the broadest sense a good survey methodology demonstrates low methodological variance and low bias.  In other words you would like a strong relationship between the number of things counted or captured and the actual number of things out there you want to talk about and that your  technique of choice does that efficiently and  is not adding a huge amount of noise to those counts (which would require boosting sample sizes to achieve the same precision).  This relationship is never perfect and is almost never evaluated.  For example, off the top of my head I can't recall any survey of bees using any technique that evaluated whether their visual counts, nettings, trappings were unbiased in relationship to the real populations as it is very difficult to either estimate or determine how many bees are really in a location at any moment in time (and lots of additional difficulties of even defining things as simple as "area" or "density," but I am off topic).


              At the next level, your objectives drive what survey technique is used and how bees are sampled and consequently, how many bees are sacrificed.  So, in the case of the flower trap it may be the least variable and most unbiased way to survey bees for any given crop or situation or it may not be.  We do not know as no tests have been made nor has the technique been extensively deployed and observed to see if  Alex's results are replicable and what factors might contribute to how many bees go into the trap and what the sex rations and species compositions become.  We can't know until those surveys are done.  At this point Alex (in my mind) has made a welcome and major contribution in discovering this phenomenon and now we must test it to see how well it works out well statistically in other areas and perhaps has applications for difficult to survey crops like Apple.  It makes sense that flower traps may be very useful to the study of flowering plants as they would appear to better target the bees of interest, increase capture rates in situations where captures are low, permit accurate and verifiable species identification, have low observer bias, and are inexpensive.  On the negative side they may (or may not....) kill many bees within a study area and that may conflict with goals for retaining bees on site or simply be in conflict with the moral principles of the project and participants.  


              Again at a broad level there are some generalities that can be applied to survey techniques.  


              Traps are less affected by observer bias than counts and net captures and are usually cheaper and easier to obtain large sample sizes per unit effort.


              All else being equal large numbers of counts or captures are mathematically more useful in a monitoring or research study than low numbers as when you have low numbers your sampling distribution runs in the zero wall as you cannot have negative animals and the calculations of variances and sample noise is much larger when dealing with zeros.  The difference between 0 and 1 is much greater than 10 and 11.     With low counts you can your ability to detect difference and are required to collect more samples to make up those differences or pool across samples which ultimately may mean increasing your effort and even the number of insects collected to overcome there statistical issues.


              Ah, poetry.....


              On Discovering a Butterfly


              I found it and I named it, being versed
              in taxonomic Latin; thus became
              godfather to an insect and its first
              describer -- and I want no other fame.


              Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
              and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
              in the secluded stronghold where we keep
              type specimens it will transcend its dust.


              Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
              poems that take a thousand years to die
              but ape the immortality of this
              red label on a little butterfly.


                     -- Vladimir Nabokov


              ARCTURUS is his other name,—  

              I ’d rather call him star!  

              It ’s so unkind of science  

              To go and interfere!  

               
               
              I pull a flower from the woods,—         5
              A monster with a glass  

              Computes the stamens in a breath,  

              And has her in a class.  

               
               
              Whereas I took the butterfly  

              Aforetime in my hat,         10
              He sits erect in cabinets,  

              The clover-bells forgot.  

               
               
              What once was heaven, is zenith now.  

              Where I proposed to go  

              When time’s brief masquerade was done,         15
              Is mapped, and charted too!  

               
               
              What if the poles should frisk about  

              And stand upon their heads!  

              I hope I ’m ready for the worst,  

              Whatever prank betides!         20
               
               
              Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven’s changed!  

              I hope the children there  

              Won’t be new-fashioned when I come,  

              And laugh at me, and stare!  

               
               
              I hope the father in the skies         25
              Will lift his little girl,—  

              Old-fashioned, naughty, everything,—  

              Over the stile of pearl!


              - Emily Dickinson


              sam



            • Peter Bernhardt
              Dear Sam: Much of the problem is that we survey insects quite differently from how we survey vertebrates and we re willing to live with a segregated protocol.
              Message 6 of 8 , Sep 8, 2010
              • 0 Attachment
                Dear Sam:

                Much of the problem is that we survey insects quite differently from how we survey vertebrates and we're willing to live with a segregated protocol.  While living in Australia (1977-1985) I took part in some ornithological surveys as honeyeater birds (Meliphagidae) and silvereyes (Zosteropidae) pollinated my box mistletoes (Amyema) and sunshine wattle (Acacia terminalis).  Birds were mist-netted, measured, weighed and released.  Surely we could do something similar for the larger bees as we now have those color keys to Bombus... right?  In the 19th century weren't bird surveys conducted with guns?

                Here is my concern.  Has anyone any idea of how many pollinators can be removed from a site without depressing reproductive success in the plant life?  Let me give you two personal examples.  The Bernhardt/Meier lab and the Missouri Department of Conservation worked together to study the reproductive ecology of our threatened Missouri bladderpod (Physaria filiformis), endemic to calcareous glades, for three seasons.  Collecting prospective pollinators in action was only part of the study but we spent five days in three years netting insects on the flowers.  We caught 150 specimens representing about 40 taxa in five bee families (I won't give you the Coleoptera, Diptera or Lepidoptera) and we have a pollen load "profile" for each specimen.  In fact, one of our bees is new to science.  A mass-flowering population of P. filiformis remains in bloom for 2-3 weeks.  I don't think that five days of collecting, spread over three Springs, was deleterious to seed set in the plant species and I don't think our collections were the cause of any local insect extirpation but how can we be sure?  

                We've started a new study for the MDC on Mead's milkweed (Asclepias meadii).  It has a much depressed seed set in the few prairie remnants where it continues to grow in Missouri and Kansas.  Some populations spend years without setting a single pod.  The umbel of a Mead's milkweed produces 9-14 flowers but at our best site a plant will produce a maximum of two pods.  We've found only three bee species that remove its pollinia in the past two seasons and only one is a really common visitor.  I derive a tremendous amount of data from the insects I collect.  Because of the specialized pollen release mechanism I can now discriminate between nectar thieves and true pollinia vectors.  I could even give you the Mean of how many  pollinia a bee carries during a foraging bout as the sticky plug remains attached to legs and mouth parts.  How justified am I to collect and kill pollinators at sites where one out of 20 plants produces a single pod each year?

                Sincerely, Peter

                On Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 7:01 AM, Sam Droege <sdroege@...> wrote:
                 


                Jamie:

                Well spoken.  Your logic is sound and reasonable, but I do want to comment a bit more on large scale surveys and their role in the understanding and conservation of bees, with some additional comments on the said and unsaid ethical dilemmas we all place ourselves in with studying insects.  

                Fundamentally, large scale faunal surveys whose goal is to document what bees are present across numerous locales require a set of objectives, similar to the more localized surveys of individual species, crop use, or behavioral work.   A difference is that to achieve their goals such surveys need to capture and consequently kill and process relatively large number of bees compared to many other types of studies.  As with other studies the same general principals you outline below hold.  It is important to diminish bycatch, process and use what you capture, and generate useful specimens for other groups if at all possible.  

                A theme that arises in some of this correspondence is one that questions whether such faunal studies are necessary or not.  While this is to some extent the purview of the person starting the study to determine and justify to their supervisors and funders...since the question has arisen, it makes some sense to lay out out the pros and cons.  On the con side is that fact that there is mortality of bees and other insects involved.  On the pro side, these surveys provide the material we need to determine status, change, presence of species.  One cannot understand the status of most (note, some species can be surveyed visually, or netted and released, but this would not be the case for most) species without collecting them.  One cannot find populations of rare or unusual specimens, unfortunately, without collecting many common specimens too.  To do taxonomic and molecular work usually require fresh specimens and since about an eighth of the all North American specimens are yet unnamed (fewer now thanks to Jason Gibb's Lasioglossum work) there is much to do...all requiring surveys.

                In most cases collecting likely has little impact on the ultimate welfare of the species, whereas not collecting specimens leaves us in the dark as to the current status and distribution of species.  While I would argue that collecting many Bombus queens from the Pacific Northwest where they all seem to be more than happy to travel long distances to a UV Blue vane or  bowl trap is something to avoid, most other species are not particularly trap happy and are solitary or eusocial.  The average females of these groups would be collected half way through their life cycle leaving progeny behind in their finished cells.   The number of bees collected to the number of bees that remain, is almost always very high.  Netting or bowl trapping repeatedly in area continues to trap large numbers of bees even after continuous trapping, leaving one with the impression that while some bees have been taken out of the system, the region has not been taken out.   Finally, if one looks at the number of collectors, the impact of their individual traps, and extrapolates to the entire landscape...the impact is diminutive...one cannot physically survey that many places to make a difference.

                If, as argued above, long-term bee populations do not suffer from a collecting effect (this needs to be better studied, really it has not been studied at all), then most of us are also caught a bit in the unspoken dilemma of favoring some insect lives more than others.  For this to be resolved, we would need to justify based on some principal that bees are somehow more important than other insects and therefore different ethical standards apply to how they are treated.  For example, think about how many insects are sacrificed when you mow your lawn with a power mower rather than a hand reel mower .... or not mowing at all.  What of those lives?  I know of know programs to diminish mowing that use the argument that thousands of insects are killed in the process.    Pillows and linens contain thousands of dust mites, yet we wash our linens without a thought to those lives lost.  On a species to species basis one cannot really argue that there is some innate superiority to the life of a bee vs the life of a mite.  Yet, that is part of being human as we clearly favor domestic animals over wild (well, at least the public does) and we apply different standards to what we kill directly or kill indirectly through our passivity on issues of land conservation or the simple management of our homes and yards.  I also see this in students of bees who mourn the loss of a charismatic bumblebee, but think nothing of the dozens of sweat bees that are also killed.  The ACUC committee is a good model for applying ethical standards to the treatment of insects, in those documents you will be unlikely to find a notion that one sort of vertebrate is more OK to mistreat than another.  

                In the end we have all come to appreciate the beauty of the bees that we study.  In the process we both objectify and project our values on this group.  This is helpful as it intensifies our desire for their well-being.   But, in the end, this may mean that you and I, as individuals, will favor approaches that differ based not only on scientific credibility, but our personal values.  This is also fine, but problems may arise if we assess the merit of studies on our values rather than their scientific credibility (which, of course, is also a philosophic position open to interpretation).  

                Very tricky!

                sam


                Sam Droege  sdroege@...                      
                w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
                USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
                BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705
                Http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov

                A Noiseless Patient Spider

                A noiseless patient spider,
                I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
                Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
                It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
                Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.


                And you O my soul where you stand,
                Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
                Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
                Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
                Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.


                        -- Walt Whitman



                P Bees are not optional.


                From:"Strange, James" <James.Strange@...>
                To:"Sam Droege" <sdroege@...>
                Cc:<beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com>
                Date:09/07/2010 07:55 PM
                Subject:RE: [beemonitoring] On squash bee, surveys, and the death of insects





                Sam et al.,
                 
                Thanks for your thoughtful posts.  It is indeed a diverse group that works on bees.
                 
                I hate to pick at scabs, but during the flurry of posts last week I thought it best to walk away and let the holiday weekend temper my thoughts on this issue.  I do want to throw my two cents into the pot as I think this is an important issue.  This is, of course, not about Peponapis or even traps, really.  It is about bees and the ethics of killing them.  And, as it turns out, the easiest way to kill and collect oodles of bees is to trap them.  As Sam rightfully pointed out, we are all going to approach this in different ways, with different feelings about this and, I suspect, those feelings will largely be influenced by the particular work the individual is doing.  And, yes, it depends on our objectives.  It is easy for me to justify the taking of several hundred bees for pathogen or population surveys because I “need” to kill the bees to acquire the data.  I imagine we all perceive similar “needs” for our own work.  
                 
                I don’t suppose we need some ethical treatise on the subject of killing bees, but I think that we should be able to bring up the question without too much rancor.  A few simple checks (What are my research goals?  How many specimens do I need to take to achieve those goals?  What are the ups and downs of my particular methodology?) should be employed before any project.  I would add a few other questions to the list.  If I kill bees, how can I maximize the data they generate?  Could I justify this to an ethical review board?  What would Vince do?
                 
                I personally don’t find it necessary to know all of the bees that exist in the world; my interests seem to revolve around the more common ones.   However, if you are so inclined, then I have no major beef with your goals.  Yet, I have lately seen several collections that have come out of traps (of various kinds) and I am in general disappointed that the collectors used that method.  For large faunal surveys, they may be an excellent tool, but too many people (and sadly many are students) are using the traps to gather data where trapping is inappropriate.  As Peter mentioned, the pollen is often gone, sometimes the specimens are poorly treated after recovery, or in the case of the vane traps the specimens are broken and brittle.  There is also the issue of by-catch to contend with.  All those unwanted beetles, moths and flies add up.  If the particular trap (e.g. Alex’s Peponapis trap) can reduce the by-catch then I am in favor.  Though I would still argue that in most cases the bees could be observed at the flowers and captured if you are really interested in the visitors to a particular flower.  Perhaps there are other cases where it would be even better applied.
                 
                In general I take the philosophy that Jim Cane and Vince Tepedino espoused, which is to say I have reservations about large scale faunal surveys in general.  Where a clear scientific question is posed a priori and the benefits can be seen to outweigh the costs, then by all means, go for it.   While it is interesting to consider the possibility of what we might be able to do if we had a few long series of Bombus affinis as John pointed out, I still have a hard time wishing there were more in collections.  The best series we have of Bombus occidentalis came from Macior’s net collections while studying the pollination of Pedicularis, not from large faunal surveys.  Unfortunately his labeling leaves something to be desired.  A final thought to chew on:  What if a trap turns up a dead Bombus franklini queen?  An undergrad with a net could be trained to photograph and release that same queen.  Would trapping be justified to say “look, the species was extant last week”?  
                 
                Thanks for your time and your thoughts,
                Jamie
                 
                 
                James P. Strange PhD
                Research Entomologist
                USDA-ARS- PIRU
                Logan, UT
                435-797-7151
                 
                From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Sam Droege
                Sent:
                Saturday, September 04, 2010 6:31 AM
                To:
                beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
                Subject:
                [beemonitoring] On squash bee, surveys, and the death of insects

                 
                 



                All:


                What interesting and passionate people we have on this listserv.  This current thread reminds me of the differences between two of my favorite poets the Russian American amateur butterfly taxonomist Vladimir Nabokov and the nature observant Emily Dickinson.  Their philosophies differ in similar ways (poems at end of this email.).


                There are two components being discussed here, ..The death of bees via our collecting actions and the best approach to a survey of bees in a research, inventory, or monitoring situation.


                How we approach the moral issue regarding the death of insects is a personal one, we all have differences in what we think, how we feel, and how we transmit those feelings about our direct actions that lead to an insect's death.  Philosophically and logically, there is no right or wrong here, there are simply differences, we can argue and persuade, but in the end no statement can be made outside our personal feelings.  Because it involves passions and feelings its best to be careful in how it is discussed and is similar to the arenas of religion and politics in what it can do to relationships.


                In terms of the use of a trapping technique (for example the flower trap that stimulated this discussion) there are some statistical and mathematical guidelines that can be helpful in this discussion.  In fact, I have just returned from teaching a week long course (with several FWS statisticians) at the National Conservation Training Center on developing surveys for animals and plants and we worked with everything from Caribou to Spring Snails.  So these ideas are fresh in my mind.


                It all depends on your objectives.


                In the broadest sense a good survey methodology demonstrates low methodological variance and low bias.  In other words you would like a strong relationship between the number of things counted or captured and the actual number of things out there you want to talk about and that your  technique of choice does that efficiently and  is not adding a huge amount of noise to those counts (which would require boosting sample sizes to achieve the same precision).  This relationship is never perfect and is almost never evaluated.  For example, off the top of my head I can't recall any survey of bees using any technique that evaluated whether their visual counts, nettings, trappings were unbiased in relationship to the real populations as it is very difficult to either estimate or determine how many bees are really in a location at any moment in time (and lots of additional difficulties of even defining things as simple as "area" or "density," but I am off topic).


                At the next level, your objectives drive what survey technique is used and how bees are sampled and consequently, how many bees are sacrificed.  So, in the case of the flower trap it may be the least variable and most unbiased way to survey bees for any given crop or situation or it may not be.  We do not know as no tests have been made nor has the technique been extensively deployed and observed to see if  Alex's results are replicable and what factors might contribute to how many bees go into the trap and what the sex rations and species compositions become.  We can't know until those surveys are done.  At this point Alex (in my mind) has made a welcome and major contribution in discovering this phenomenon and now we must test it to see how well it works out well statistically in other areas and perhaps has applications for difficult to survey crops like Apple.  It makes sense that flower traps may be very useful to the study of flowering plants as they would appear to better target the bees of interest, increase capture rates in situations where captures are low, permit accurate and verifiable species identification, have low observer bias, and are inexpensive.  On the negative side they may (or may not....) kill many bees within a study area and that may conflict with goals for retaining bees on site or simply be in conflict with the moral principles of the project and participants.  


                Again at a broad level there are some generalities that can be applied to survey techniques.  


                Traps are less affected by observer bias than counts and net captures and are usually cheaper and easier to obtain large sample sizes per unit effort.


                All else being equal large numbers of counts or captures are mathematically more useful in a monitoring or research study than low numbers as when you have low numbers your sampling distribution runs in the zero wall as you cannot have negative animals and the calculations of variances and sample noise is much larger when dealing with zeros.  The difference between 0 and 1 is much greater than 10 and 11.     With low counts you can your ability to detect difference and are required to collect more samples to make up those differences or pool across samples which ultimately may mean increasing your effort and even the number of insects collected to overcome there statistical issues.


                Ah, poetry.....


                On Discovering a Butterfly


                I found it and I named it, being versed
                in taxonomic Latin; thus became
                godfather to an insect and its first
                describer -- and I want no other fame.


                Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
                and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
                in the secluded stronghold where we keep
                type specimens it will transcend its dust.


                Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
                poems that take a thousand years to die
                but ape the immortality of this
                red label on a little butterfly.


                       -- Vladimir Nabokov


                ARCTURUS is his other name,—  

                I ’d rather call him star!  

                It ’s so unkind of science  

                To go and interfere!  

                 
                 
                I pull a flower from the woods,—         5
                A monster with a glass  

                Computes the stamens in a breath,  

                And has her in a class.  

                 
                 
                Whereas I took the butterfly  

                Aforetime in my hat,         10
                He sits erect in cabinets,  

                The clover-bells forgot.  

                 
                 
                What once was heaven, is zenith now.  

                Where I proposed to go  

                When time’s brief masquerade was done,         15
                Is mapped, and charted too!  

                 
                 
                What if the poles should frisk about  

                And stand upon their heads!  

                I hope I ’m ready for the worst,  

                Whatever prank betides!         20
                 
                 
                Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven’s changed!  

                I hope the children there  

                Won’t be new-fashioned when I come,  

                And laugh at me, and stare!  

                 
                 
                I hope the father in the skies         25
                Will lift his little girl,—  

                Old-fashioned, naughty, everything,—  

                Over the stile of pearl!


                - Emily Dickinson


                sam




              • Greenstone, Matt
                As an ecologist interested in the role of flowering plant diversity and provenance on insect biodiversity and biocontrol, I ve found this discussion important,
                Message 7 of 8 , Sep 8, 2010
                • 0 Attachment

                  As an ecologist interested in the role of flowering plant diversity and provenance on insect biodiversity and biocontrol, I’ve found this discussion important, provocative, and instructive. As natural and semi-natural habitats are assaulted from all sides by development and pollution, we must have defensible data on pollinator and other insect biodiversity to inform scientific and public discussion of these threats. Instruments for the necessary surveys seem to run from nets to malaise traps: the former is biased by investigator behavior; the latter seems a blunt-edged battering ram with unknown biases, including, importantly, the effective capture radius.

                   

                  I’m new to this area but my impression from discussions with various hymenopterists is that pan trapping offers the best combination of thoroughness and spatial circumscription for tying species richness to particular habitats. To the extent possible one should limit trapping to the lowest duration and frequency for the task (perhaps this is known for at least some groups from cumulative diversity curves). One must also be mindful of the by-catch, which includes many other groups – e.g., parasitic and predatory wasps, predatory beetles – that are also important to ecosystem function. In the case of the non-pollinating Hymenoptera, many systematists would be eager for a chance to have at them; in general, we can all save our by-caught material in EtOH in cool, dark places until we can find the right person to give them to.

                   

                  Sincerely,

                   

                  Matt

                   


                  From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Strange, James
                  Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 2010 7:56 PM
                  To: Sam Droege
                  Cc: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: RE: [beemonitoring] On squash bee, surveys, and the death of insects

                   

                   

                  Sam et al.,

                   

                  Thanks for your thoughtful posts.  It is indeed a diverse group that works on bees.

                   

                  I hate to pick at scabs, but during the flurry of posts last week I thought it best to walk away and let the holiday weekend temper my thoughts on this issue.  I do want to throw my two cents into the pot as I think this is an important issue.  This is, of course, not about Peponapis or even traps, really.  It is about bees and the ethics of killing them.  And, as it turns out, the easiest way to kill and collect oodles of bees is to trap them.  As Sam rightfully pointed out, we are all going to approach this in different ways, with different feelings about this and, I suspect, those feelings will largely be influenced by the particular work the individual is doing.  And, yes, it depends on our objectives.  It is easy for me to justify the taking of several hundred bees for pathogen or population surveys because I “need” to kill the bees to acquire the data.  I imagine we all perceive similar “needs” for our own work. 

                   

                  I don’t suppose we need some ethical treatise on the subject of killing bees, but I think that we should be able to bring up the question without too much rancor.  A few simple checks (What are my research goals?  How many specimens do I need to take to achieve those goals?  What are the ups and downs of my particular methodology?) should be employed before any project.  I would add a few other questions to the list.  If I kill bees, how can I maximize the data they generate?  Could I justify this to an ethical review board?  What would Vince do?

                   

                  I personally don’t find it necessary to know all of the bees that exist in the world; my interests seem to revolve around the more common ones.   However, if you are so inclined, then I have no major beef with your goals.  Yet, I have lately seen several collections that have come out of traps (of various kinds) and I am in general disappointed that the collectors used that method.  For large faunal surveys, they may be an excellent tool, but too many people (and sadly many are students) are using the traps to gather data where trapping is inappropriate.  As Peter mentioned, the pollen is often gone, sometimes the specimens are poorly treated after recovery, or in the case of the vane traps the specimens are broken and brittle.  There is also the issue of by-catch to contend with.  All those unwanted beetles, moths and flies add up.  If the particular trap (e.g. Alex’s Peponapis trap) can reduce the by-catch then I am in favor.  Though I would still argue that in most cases the bees could be observed at the flowers and captured if you are really interested in the visitors to a particular flower.  Perhaps there are other cases where it would be even better applied.

                   

                  In general I take the philosophy that Jim Cane and Vince Tepedino espoused, which is to say I have reservations about large scale faunal surveys in general.  Where a clear scientific question is posed a priori and the benefits can be seen to outweigh the costs, then by all means, go for it.   While it is interesting to consider the possibility of what we might be able to do if we had a few long series of Bombus affinis as John pointed out, I still have a hard time wishing there were more in collections.  The best series we have of Bombus occidentalis came from Macior’s net collections while studying the pollination of Pedicularis, not from large faunal surveys.  Unfortunately his labeling leaves something to be desired.  A final thought to chew on:  What if a trap turns up a dead Bombus franklini queen?  An undergrad with a net could be trained to photograph and release that same queen.  Would trapping be justified to say “look, the species was extant last week”? 

                   

                  Thanks for your time and your thoughts,

                  Jamie

                   

                   

                  James P. Strange PhD

                  Research Entomologist

                  USDA-ARS- PIRU

                  Logan, UT

                  435-797-7151

                   

                  From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Sam Droege
                  Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2010 6:31 AM
                  To: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: [beemonitoring] On squash bee, surveys, and the death of insects

                   

                   



                  All:


                  What interesting and passionate people we have on this listserv.  This current thread reminds me of the differences between two of my favorite poets the Russian American amateur butterfly taxonomist Vladimir Nabokov and the nature observant Emily Dickinson.  Their philosophies differ in similar ways (poems at end of this email.).

                  There are two components being discussed here, ..The death of bees via our collecting actions and the best approach to a survey of bees in a research, inventory, or monitoring situation.

                  How we approach the moral issue regarding the death of insects is a personal one, we all have differences in what we think, how we feel, and how we transmit those feelings about our direct actions that lead to an insect's death.  Philosophically and logically, there is no right or wrong here, there are simply differences, we can argue and persuade, but in the end no statement can be made outside our personal feelings.  Because it involves passions and feelings its best to be careful in how it is discussed and is similar to the arenas of religion and politics in what it can do to relationships.

                  In terms of the use of a trapping technique (for example the flower trap that stimulated this discussion) there are some statistical and mathematical guidelines that can be helpful in this discussion.  In fact, I have just returned from teaching a week long course (with several FWS statisticians) at the National Conservation Training Center on developing surveys for animals and plants and we worked with everything from Caribou to Spring Snails.  So these ideas are fresh in my mind.

                  It all depends on your objectives.

                  In the broadest sense a good survey methodology demonstrates low methodological variance and low bias.  In other words you would like a strong relationship between the number of things counted or captured and the actual number of things out there you want to talk about and that your  technique of choice does that efficiently and  is not adding a huge amount of noise to those counts (which would require boosting sample sizes to achieve the same precision).  This relationship is never perfect and is almost never evaluated.  For example, off the top of my head I can't recall any survey of bees using any technique that evaluated whether their visual counts, nettings, trappings were unbiased in relationship to the real populations as it is very difficult to either estimate or determine how many bees are really in a location at any moment in time (and lots of additional difficulties of even defining things as simple as "area" or "density," but I am off topic).

                  At the next level, your objectives drive what survey technique is used and how bees are sampled and consequently, how many bees are sacrificed.  So, in the case of the flower trap it may be the least variable and most unbiased way to survey bees for any given crop or situation or it may not be.  We do not know as no tests have been made nor has the technique been extensively deployed and observed to see if  Alex's results are replicable and what factors might contribute to how many bees go into the trap and what the sex rations and species compositions become.  We can't know until those surveys are done.  At this point Alex (in my mind) has made a welcome and major contribution in discovering this phenomenon and now we must test it to see how well it works out well statistically in other areas and perhaps has applications for difficult to survey crops like Apple.  It makes sense that flower traps may be very useful to the study of flowering plants as they would appear to better target the bees of interest, increase capture rates in situations where captures are low, permit accurate and verifiable species identification, have low observer bias, and are inexpensive.  On the negative side they may (or may not....) kill many bees within a study area and that may conflict with goals for retaining bees on site or simply be in conflict with the moral principles of the project and participants.  

                  Again at a broad level there are some generalities that can be applied to survey techniques.  

                  Traps are less affected by observer bias than counts and net captures and are usually cheaper and easier to obtain large sample sizes per unit effort.

                  All else being equal large numbers of counts or captures are mathematically more useful in a monitoring or research study than low numbers as when you have low numbers your sampling distribution runs in the zero wall as you cannot have negative animals and the calculations of variances and sample noise is much larger when dealing with zeros.  The difference between 0 and 1 is much greater than 10 and 11.     With low counts you can your ability to detect difference and are required to collect more samples to make up those differences or pool across samples which ultimately may mean increasing your effort and even the number of insects collected to overcome there statistical issues.

                  Ah, poetry.....


                  On Discovering a Butterfly

                  I found it and I named it, being versed
                  in taxonomic Latin; thus became
                  godfather to an insect and its first
                  describer -- and I want no other fame.


                  Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
                  and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
                  in the secluded stronghold where we keep
                  type specimens it will transcend its dust.


                  Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
                  poems that take a thousand years to die
                  but ape the immortality of this
                  red label on a little butterfly.


                          -- Vladimir Nabokov

                  ARCTURUS is his other name,—  
                  I ’d rather call him star!  
                  It ’s so unkind of science  
                  To go and interfere!  
                     
                  I pull a flower from the woods,—         5
                  A monster with a glass  
                  Computes the stamens in a breath,  
                  And has her in a class.  
                     
                  Whereas I took the butterfly  
                  Aforetime in my hat,         10
                  He sits erect in cabinets,  
                  The clover-bells forgot.  
                     
                  What once was heaven, is zenith now.  
                  Where I proposed to go  
                  When time’s brief masquerade was done,         15
                  Is mapped, and charted too!  
                     
                  What if the poles should frisk about  
                  And stand upon their heads!  
                  I hope I ’m ready for the worst,  
                  Whatever prank betides!         20
                     
                  Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven ’s changed!  
                  I hope the children there  
                  Won’t be new-fashioned when I come,  
                  And laugh at me, and stare!  
                     
                  I hope the father in the skies         25
                  Will lift his little girl,—  
                  Old-fashioned, naughty, everything,—  
                  Over the stile of pearl!

                   - Emily Dickinson

                  sam

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