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Jessica Kettenbach

Global Change Fellow Alumna | Department of Applied Ecology | North Carolina State University

2016-2017 Global Change Fellow

Where are they now?

Jessica is a Research Assistant at the USDA APHIS Plant Epidemiology and Risk Analysis Laboratory.

Statement of purpose:

Plant-pollinator interactions are at the forefront of ecological concern under global change pressures including climate and land-use change. Urbanization is one form of land-use change that is rapidly expanding worldwide, affecting resource availability, landscape permeability and creating microclimates in urban habitats. In some cases, urban habitats support diverse bee pollinator communities. Yet it is uncertain how these habitats may play a role in bee conservation.

Description of research:

My research aligns with both the CSC’s Theme 2: Land Use and Land-Cover Change Projections and Theme 4: Ecological Research Modeling. Using an integrated approach, I explore the phenomenon of increased bee abundance in urban habitats. Local urbanization may increase habitat patch temperatures or resource availability, recruiting pollinators to urban habitats that may or may not support them throughout their life cycles. To understand these effects, I will identify plant and bee community interactions across the mosaic urban landscape of the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area and use an experimental approach to understand bee life cycle success in urban and rural habitats. Finally, I will use genetic information and GIS software to map bee gene flow and urban habitat patch dynamics and identify landscape barriers to dispersal and migration. With this information it is possible to develop models of how bees and plants may respond to increased urbanization. By understanding how bees exploit urban landscapes, we can create strategies that promote conservation of pollinators, plants, and their interactions.

View a video developed by Jessica describing her research as a Global Change Fellow: