59 Dr. Hollis Woodard – Bees in dynamic and extreme environments


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Bees can live in some extreme environments; from the hot deserts of the US southwest, to the tundra in Alaska and northern Canada. Dr. Hollis Woodard’s research focuses on the underlying mechanisms that allow these bees to adapt to these extremes, providing insights into basic bee biology that can help us understand how bees might respond to our rapidly-changing planet. Dr. Woodard is an Assistant Professor of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside. From 2013-2015, she was a USDA-NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow working on the nutritional ecology of bumble bees with Dr. Shalene Jha at the University of Texas at Austin. She received a PhD in Biology in 2012 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she worked with Dr. Gene Robinson on the molecular basis of social evolution in bees.

Listen in to today’s episode to learn about the bees that evolved in vastly different climates, and why Dr. Woodard’s lab studies the way they have adapted.

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“I started thinking, I have learned a lot about bee nutrition and behavior to answer fundamental biological questions about bumble bees, but if this group is in trouble maybe I can take what I learned to apply to questions of how to conserve them.” – Dr. Hollis Woodard

Show Notes:

  • Bumble bee diversity and the wide range of habitats they have adapted to living in.
  • How bees in the arctic have changed to fit within their environment.
  • How bees have evolved sociality multiple independent times, but how all share common sugar metabolic pathways.
  • Why some bumblebee populations are doing okay while others are in steep decline.
  • The challenges that are facing native bees today.
  • The key challenges to a national native bee monitoring system and some of the ideas for tackling these problems.
  • Why E.O. Wilson has been such a big inspiration for Dr. Woodard.

“There are some groups across the US who are monitoring for native bees and one the things we can do [to monitor bees as a country] is start to unite some of these efforts and link up and standardize approaches. We need to move beyond the borders of a state, because many bees don’t exist within the boundaries of one state.” – Dr. Hollis Woodard

Links Mentioned:

Learn more about Dr. Hollis Woddard’s favorites:

Connect with Dr. Hollis Woodard at The Woodard Lab

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