Plant pollinators play enormous ecological and economic roles in natural and cultivated landscapes. Recent studies suggest that some pollinator species are suffering sharp population declines, and this alarming pattern highlights the need to increase our understanding of pollinator natural history, population status, and distribution.
The U.S. Geological Survey asked NatureServe to develop detailed range maps of five pollinator species. We selected species based on the following criteria: must be a true pollinator (some species visit flowers but often do not pollinate), has a wide distribution, pollinates a broad range of plants, is not domesticated, is representative geographically and taxonomically, and is well known.
The digital distribution maps present a detailed view of the past and present distribution of each species. The maps allow users to use GIS software to examine the distributional relationship between pollinators and various native and cultivated plants.
Features & Benefits
The maps cover five species, including one bird and four insects:
Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna) - Download Map
Anna’s hummingbirds are important pollinators of the west coast, currently ranging from southeastern Alaska south to northwestern Mexico. They are known to pollinate gooseberry, monkey-flower, penstemon, and fuchsia. Some populations are migratory while others are sedentary. The range has expanded dramatically northward over the past century. For example, the northern extent of the range in 1930 was San Francisco.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) Download Map
These well known butterflies are important pollinators throughout most of the eastern United States and a portion of southern Canada. They can be found almost anywhere, but primary breeding habitats are deciduous or mixed forests, woodlands, and swamps. They visit a wide range of flowers, ranging from milkweeds and thistles to certain native orchids.
Hermit Sphinx (Lintneria eremitus) Download Map
These robust moths are important pollinators in the eastern United States and southern Canada. Sphinx moths have been popular with collectors since the 1800s, so we have many historical and recent specimen records. These moths also are often photographed as both adults and larvae in gardens. Both old and recent records suggest that this species remains widespread but occurs mostly in the mountains south of Pennsylvania and from Michigan through northwestern Indiana and the northern prairie region southward through much of Missouri. Hermit sphinxes are a documented pollinator of the endangered orchid Platanthera leucophaea. Platanthera orchids appear to require sphinx moths for cross pollination.
Rusty-patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis) Download Map
Rusty-patched bumble bees are native to the northeastern United States and adjacent southern Canada. These bees formerly were quite common, but more recently they have been found in only a handful of locations, despite substantial field effort. The main cause of the decline is thought to be pathogens/parasites from domesticated bumblebees (Bombus impatiens, B. occidentalis) that were reared in Europe and returned to the USA for greenhouse pollination.
Southeastern Blueberry Bee (Habropoda laboriosa) Download Map
Southeastern blueberry bees inhabit the coastal plain of the United States from southern New England to Florida and Texas. They nest singly or in groups in burrows in sandy soils. These bees are regarded as very effective pollinators of native and cultivated blueberries, the flowers of which release pollen best when subjected to the blueberry bee’s specialized “buzz pollination” behavior.
Financial support for this project was generously provided by the USGS.
We thank the curators and data managers of the following museums and organizations for making specimen and observational records available for use on this project: University of Alaska (Alaska Natural Heritage Program), American Museum of Natural History, Arizona Game and Fish Department (Arizona Heritage Data Management System), University of Arizona Museum of Natural History, Audubon Christmas Bird Count, British Columbia Breeding Bird Atlas, California Academy of Sciences, UCLA Dickey Collection, Canadian Ministry of Environment (British Columbia Conservation Data Centre), Canadian Museum of Nature, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, Delaware Museum of Natural History, eBird, Kansas University Natural History Museum, Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Museum of Southwestern Biology, New Mexico Ornithological Society, University of New Mexico (Natural Heritage New Mexico), Oregon Breeding Bird Atlas, Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (Wildlife Diversity Program), United States National Museum, University of Washington Burke Museum, and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
We thank Donald Chandler, University of New Hampshire, Robert Dirig, Les Ferge, John Fisher, Gary Marrone, John Nelson, Paul Opler, Mike Reese, David Wright, and Phillip deMaynadier for posting distributional information on their websites and/or responding to our inquiries about the distribution of Papilio glaucus.
We thank the curators and data managers of the following museums and organizations for making specimen and observational records available for use on this project: Academy of Natural Sciences, Clemson University, University of Connecticut, Field Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Milwaukee Public Museum, Museum of Comparative Zoology, University of New Hampshire, New York State Museum, North Carolina State University, Philip D. Nordin private collection, Rutgers University, Science Museum of Minnesota, and Yale Peabody Museum.
Rusty-patched Bumble Bee
We thank the curators and data managers of the following museums and organizations for making specimen and observational records available for use on this project: American Museum of Natural History, Canadian National Collection, University of Connecticut, University of Delaware, Field Museum of Natural History, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of New Hampshire, North Carolina State University, Ohio State University, Rutgers University, West Virginia University, and Yale Peabody Museum. In addition, we thank Sydney Cameron for responding to our inquiries about the distribution of this species.
Southeastern Blueberry Bee
We thank the curators and data managers of the following museums and organizations for making specimen and observational records available for use on this project: Academy of Natural Sciences (ANSP), American Museum of Natural History, University of Connecticut, University of Delaware, Discover Life in America, Florida State University (Florida State Collection of Arthropods), Kansas Natural History Museum, North Carolina State University, Rutgers University, United States Department of Agriculture (Agricultural Research Service Bee Lab), United States Geological Survey, and United States National Museum (NMNH). In addition, we thank James Cane for responding to our inquiries about the distribution of this species.