The Bees Knees: Michael WarrinerApr 20th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: guest bio, the show
Michael Warriner likes to stay out of the spotlight; that is, until it comes to letting others know about native bees, especially bumblebees.
He’ll make an exception for bumblebees.
I met Michael at Texas Parks and Wildlife where he’s an invertebrate biologist in Wildlife Diversity. “That means I deal with things that don’t have backbones,” he told me.
We’re talking literally without a backbone, not figuratively.
These spineless wonders include: insects, arthropods, mollusks–you get the picture.
However, Michael is partial to bumblebees,and not just because they’re cute “flying balls of fur”, either. They’re highly beneficial to the ecosystem as well as agriculture.
He says he first became interested in bumblebees and their conservation in 2005 while working for the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. That state’s bumblebee fauna had not been seriously examined since 1965. He spent the next six years conducting field surveys of bumblebees occurring in Arkansas’s remnant grasslands as well as a two-year citizen-science effort (Arkansas Bumblebee Survey).
He moved to Texas in 2009 to become the resident Invertebrate Biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
He says the bumblebees of Texas were last reviewed in 1913, nearly 100 years ago. Given robust evidence of bumblebee declines in portions of North America, he dds that it’s important to examine how these insects are doing in Texas, especially given their significant economic contributions to agriculture and critical roles in maintaining native ecosystems.
Michael curates the website www.texasbumblebees.com, where visitors learn how to identify the nine bumblebee species in Texas, as well learn conservation strategies.