Sheila has an Honours Bachelor of Zoology from the University of Toronto, St. George campus and completed her Ph.D. in Biology at York University in 2012. She began working with native pollinators in 2004 as a research assistant to Dr. James Thomson.  During her undergraduate degree she was involved in projects observing pollinator foraging behaviour and evolutionary ecology. Her honours thesis documented the spillover of diseases from managed bumblebees to native bumblebees in southern Ontario.  Her Ph.D. work focused on assessing the conservation status and ecological requirements for eastern North American bumblebees.  This work was the first quantitative study documenting the decline of native bumblebees in the region and lead to the Rusty-patched Bumblebee being listed as Endangered in Canada and in Ontario. Additional projects in collaboration with universities and museum in Canada, USA, UK and China have assessed the status of native species and looked more deeply into possible causes for decline.  Her research has been featured on Quirks & Quarks, Discovery Channel’s the Daily Planet, the Washington Post, and David Suzuki’s Nature of Things. In addition to scientific research, Sheila has been actively working on outreach, education and advocacy with regards to pollinator conservation, ecosystem services and sustainable agriculture.  She has worked with numerous NGOs and government agencies including Pollinator Partnership, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, USDA-Forest Service, FAO, Canadian Wildlife Service, OMNR and Natureserve.  She is currently the North American Coordinator (with Dr. Robbin Thorp) of the IUCN SSC Bumblebee Specialist Group which aims to use IUCN criteria to assess the status of wild bumblebees worldwide. Currently, Sheila is a Project Leader at Wildlife Preservation Canada looking to bring the Rusty-patched bumblebee and other at-risk pollinators back from the brink of extinction. This will include looking for extant populations of declining species and working with Citizen Scientists, Parks Employees and Landowners to gather data to produce a conservation management plan.

Select Publications

Williams, P., L. Richardson, R.Thorp & S.R. Colla. (To be released spring 2013) A Field Guide to the Bumblebees of North America. Princeton University Press.

Szabo, N., S.R. Colla, D. Wagner, L. Gall & J. Kerr (2012) Is pathogen spillover from commercial bumblebees responsible for North American wild bumblebee declines? Conservation Letters

Bartomeus, I., J.S. Ascher, S.R. Colla, D.Wagner, B.N. Danforth, S. Kornbluth & R. Winfree (2011) Climate‐associated phenological advances in bee pollinators and bee-pollinated plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108: 20645-20649.

Colla, S.R., et al. (2012) Documenting persistence and absence of eastern North American bee species to 1990-2009.  Journal of the Entomological Society of Kansas

Colla, S.R. & S. Dumesh (2010) The bumblebees of southern Ontario: notes on distribution and natural history Entomological Society of Ontario 141: 38-67.

Ratti, C.M. & S.R.Colla (2010) The presence of an eastern bumblebee, Bombus impatiens, in western Canada. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 86:29-31.

Colla, S.R, E.Willis, & L.Packer. (2009)  Can green roofs provide habitat for urban bees? Cities and the Environment (2):1

Williams, P., S. Colla & Z. Xie. (2009) Bumblebee vulnerability: common correlates of winners and losers across three continents. Conservation Biology 23: 931-940.

Colla, S.R. & L. Packer (2008) Evidence for decline in eastern North American bumblebees (Hymenoptera: Apidae), with special focus on Bombus affinis Cresson. Biodiversity and Conservation 17: 1379-1391.

Colla, S.R., M.C. Otterstatter, R.J. Gegear & J.D. Thomson (2006) Plight of the bumblebee: Pathogen spillover from commercial to wild populations. Biological Conservation 129: 461-467.

Colla, S.R. (Submitted) Status Report for Bombus ashtoni (Hymenoptera:Apidae). Prepared for the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Environment Canada

Colla, S.R. & Alana Taylor-Pindar (2010) Recovery strategy for the Rusty-patched Bumblebee (Bombus affinis) in Ontario. Ontario Recovery Strategy Series. Prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario

Schweitzer, D.F., N.A. Capuano, B.E. Young, and S.R. Colla (2010) Conservation and Management of North American Bumblebees. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, and USDA Forest Service, Washington, D.C.

Colla, S.R., L.Richardsone, P.Williams.(2011) Guide to the Bumblebees of the Eastern US [Online] Published by the USDA Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership.

Colla, S. & M. Otterstatter (Submitted) Status Report for Bombus occidentalis Cresson (Hymenoptera:Apidae). Prepared for the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Environment Canada Colla, S.R & C. Sheffield. (2010) General Status Taxonomic Evaluation Coordinator for Bumblebees in Canada for the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council, Wild Species 2010: The General Status of Species in Canada. National General Status Working Group.

Colla, S. (2010) Status Report for Bombus affinis Cresson (Hymenoptera:Apidae). Prepared for the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Environment Canada