EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Impact on native bees from utility-scale solar development in the Mojave and western Sonoran Deserts

Leslie Saul-Gershenz1, Thomas Zavortink2, Jenny Van Wyk3, John S. Ascher4, and Lynn Kimsey1
Leslie Saul-Gershenz et al.
  • 1University of California, Davis, Department of Entomology & Nematology, United States of America (
  • 2University University of California, Davis, Bohart Museum, United States of America (
  • 3Mount Holyoke College, Biological Sciences, United States of America (
  • 4National University of Singapore, Department of Biological Sciences, Singapore

We determined the bee species presence, abundance, and diversity at utility-scale ground-mounted solar development (USS) to assess the impact on desert pollinators and the services they provide to the plants in the communities in which they live, specifically, in the Mojave and Colorado Desert regions.  We used a matched transect control design to test whether pollinator populations have changed due to solar utility scale installations. Sixty to 90% of flowering plants require animal pollinators. The Mojave Desert represents a hotspot of bee biodiversity corresponding to its rich botanical diversity of 1512 species. Our study found 113 species in a severe drought year after five drought years (2011-2015). 42% were oligoleges, 10% were polylectic and 29% of the  lacked data on their floral diets. Included were 5 undescribed species in the families Apidae (Tetraloniella, Anthophora -Anthophoroides, Anthophorula,) and Halictidae (Lasioglossum [Dialictus]). In our transect study we found lower abundance, diversity and richness inside the solar installations. However, we did not find a significant effect of distance from solar installation at 2K for our one year study. The BVT traps represented 16% of the collected specimens and 58 species and cup traps represented 83% of traps, and captured 46.7% of the total specimens and 66 species.Of the total bees species captured and identified, 76% are ground-nesting species.

How to cite: Saul-Gershenz, L., Zavortink, T., Van Wyk, J., Ascher, J. S., and Kimsey, L.: Impact on native bees from utility-scale solar development in the Mojave and western Sonoran Deserts, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1881,, 2022.