PELLA, IOWA (June 1, 2023) — Central College students presented at the Iowa Academy of Science Annual Meeting in April on the University of Northern Iowa campus. The presentation, "Using DNA Barcoding to Study the Bee Diversity in Big Rock Park," focuses on identifying the diversity of bees around Big Rock Park in Pella, Iowa.

Layken Bytnar, Class of 2024 from Bettendorf, Iowa, and Lauren Wall, Class of 2024 from Donahue, Iowa, gave an oral presentation as part of the Ecology and Conservation section at the annual meeting.

Paulina Mena, associate professor of biology, leads the research and identification of native bees.

"Bees are well known for their pollination services in natural ecosystems and crop production," Mena says. "However, only a small number of species have been studied and there are many documented declines in bee populations. This research consists in determining the bee diversity of Big Rock Park, in Pella, Iowa."

"Layken and Lauren presented our findings with DNA barcoding, a novel way to distinguish species," Mena says. "This technique allows for quick and accurate species identification using minimal amounts of tissue. Additionally, our use of DNA barcoding has revealed some interesting patterns that have practical implications for how biologists define a species."

Central College of Pella, Iowa, is a private, four-year liberal-arts college. Central is known for its academic rigor and leadership formation and for cultivating diversity of thought and culture through the arts and sciences, professional fields of study, and experiential learning.

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