Most research on oak woodlands has focused on trees, vertebrate wildlife or, rarely, endangered species of other taxa.  We know virtually nothing about invertebrate species even though they are integral to critical ecosystem functions such as pollination.  The primary native pollinators in oak woodlands, solitary bees, are important for many native plants and crop species.

Because bees do not pollinate grapes, the conversion of oak woodland to vineyard presents an especially difficult problem for native bees. These bees lose both nesting habitat and food resources when oak woodlands are converted to vineyards.  The remaining wild habitat fragments in heavily converted landscapes like the Napa Valley are the equivalent of island refuges in an inhospitable sea.  To effectively manage these mixed-use landscapes, we need to understand what characteristics of fragments allow them to maintain a diverse bee fauna and to develop methods for reducing the inhospitability of the surrounding matrix.

We are using a combination of monitoring and experimental approaches to provide a starting point for evaluating land use and to develop strategies for doing restoration and minimizing the impact of vineyards in regions undergoing development.