Rebecca Tonietto

Candidate for Doctorate Degree

Presidential Fellow
Doctoral Program in Plant Biology and Conservation
Northwestern University
and Chicago Botanic Garden

Research Interests: Restoration ecology, native bees, urban ecology, phylogenetic community ecology

Current Research


Completing vegetation surveys at a remnant prairie with field assistant Lisa Mithun (right).

Looking for bees on Compass Plant.

Sorting specimens back in the lab.


I am investigating the effects of tallgrass prairie restoration on native bee communities. With over 500 bee species in Illinois alone, bees are diverse and important prairie pollinators. Unfortunately, some species, specifically certain bumble bee species, are in decline. In order to better understand how to conserve and potentially restore native bee communities, it is necessary to understand factors that structure native bee community composition.


My sites represent a restoration chronosequence of former agricultural fields in northeastern Illinois. I use local floral diversity and abundance, ground-cover, management histories, and surrounding land-use data to determine factors that affect native bee diversity, abundance and community composition. I am also investigating bee community composition using a phylogenetic approach. Through my research, I will identify actionable steps for restoration practitioners and land managers to better provide sites for native bee conservation.


Ksiazek, K., R. Tonietto and J. Ascher. 2014. Ten bee species new to green roofs in the Chicago area. The Great Lakes Entomologist. 47:87-92.

Tonietto, R., J. Fant, J. Ascher, K. Ellis, and D. Larkin. 2011. A comparison of bee communities of Chicago green roofs, parks and prairies. Landscape and Urban Planning 103:102-108.


Tonietto, R. and J. S. Ascher. 2009. Occurrence of the Old World bee species Hylaeus hyalinatus, Anthidium manicatum, Anthidium oblongatum, Megachile sculpturalis, and the native Coelioxys banksi, in Illinois (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Colletidae, Megachilidae). Great Lakes Entomologist 41(1&2): 200 – 203.


Chicago Wilderness

Discover Life

Bee Hunt

Grants, Fellowships and Awards

The David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship



Presidential Fellowship, Northwestern University


Plant Biology and Conservation Research Award, Northwestern University


Plant Biology and Conservation Research Award, Northwestern University

Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration

Prairie Biotic Research Grant


Plant Biology and Conservation Travel Award, Northwestern University

Plant Biology and Conservation Research Award, Northwestern University

Prairie Biotic Research Grant


Shaw Fellowship for Plant Biology and Conservation


March 13, 2015