In recent years, ecologists have focused on describing patterns of
change in wild bee communities, but we know little about the
population-level mechanisms driving those changes. We believe this
emphasis on community-level patterns stems from two misconceptions: the
perceptions that population-level studies are too conceptually narrow to
provide rigorous inference, and that studying bees throughout their life
cycles is prohibitively challenging without pinned specimens. Here, we
combat these ideas. First, when population-level studies are couched in
ecological theory, they can also have a broad scope of inference. And
second, studies of wild bees throughout their life cycles are possible
because dozens of species can be identified to species in the field.
More generally, we emphasize the need to link data-rich pattern-oriented
approaches in ecology with an understanding of the basic biology and
mechanisms that generate those patterns.