3 years ago

Spatial ecology of a range‐expanding bumble bee pollinator

Liam P. Crowther, David J. Wright, David S. Richardson, Claire Carvell, Andrew F. G. Bourke


Molecular methods have greatly increased our understanding of the previously cryptic spatial ecology of bumble bees (Bombus spp.), with knowledge of the spatial ecology of these bees being central to conserving their essential pollination services. Bombus hypnorum, the Tree Bumble Bee, is unusual in that it has recently rapidly expanded its range, having colonized much of the UK mainland since 2001. However, the spatial ecology of B. hypnorum has not previously been investigated. To address this issue, and to investigate whether specific features of the spatial ecology of B. hypnorum are associated with its rapid range expansion, we used 14 microsatellite markers to estimate worker foraging distance, nest density, between‐year lineage survival rate and isolation by distance in a representative UK B. hypnorum population. After assigning workers to colonies based on full or half sibship, we estimated the mean colony‐specific worker foraging distance as 103.6 m, considerably less than values reported from most other bumble bee populations. Estimated nest density was notably high (2.56 and 0.72 colonies ha−1 in 2014 and 2015, respectively), estimated between‐year lineage survival rate was 0.07, and there was no evidence of fine‐scale isolation by distance. In addition, genotyping stored sperm dissected from sampled queens confirmed polyandry in this population (mean minimum mating frequency of 1.7 males per queen). Overall, our findings establish critical spatial ecological parameters and the mating system of this unusual bumble bee population and suggest that short worker foraging distances and high nest densities are associated with its rapid range expansion.

Open access
You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.