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Research Spotlight


PhD student Sara Prado had her research in Puerto Rico featured in the newspaper El Nuevo Dia. The article highlights Sara’s recent discovery of three new bee species in Puerto Rico and provides an introduction to the native bees of Puerto Rico.

Here’s a little bit more about Sara’s ongoing research in Puerto Rico.

sara-prado-field-picture2My research in Puerto Rico began in 2012, after I completed my Master’s degree in Entomology. I was hired to work on a one-year-long project funded by Natural Resources Conservation Service, wherein I was responsible for identifying pollinator-friendly plants, which growers could use as field margins. In doing so, I caught the bees I observed on both the wildflowers and the row crops, to identify which species were found foraging on each. The following year, I began sampling bees in other areas, such as forests and coffee plantations, to see how management practices may be affecting bees in different agroecosystems. After a year of working on this, I began my PhD with a more focused goal of assessing the effects of agricultural practices and landscape complexity on bees and their pollination services. Specifically, I’m looking at how the landscape composition (forest, sun coffee, shade coffee) can affect the presence/absence of bees and how coffee pollination is affected by agricultural practices (shade canopy, agrochemicals, vegetation diversity) in shade and sun coffee plantations.

Over the course of my research, I’ve learned a lot about bees, and more importantly, how little is known about them in Puerto Rico. I’m excited that my research has allowed me to discover a few new species for the island, and for science. That’s definitely something I never imagined I could say.

Sara Prado, PhD Student, Department of Applied Ecology