An interspecific comparison of foraging range and nest density of four bumblebee (Bombus) species

Knight, M E, Martin, A P, Bishop, S, Osborne, J L, Hale, R J, Sanderson, R A and Goulson, D (2005) An interspecific comparison of foraging range and nest density of four bumblebee (Bombus) species. Molecular Ecology, 14 (6). pp. 1811-1820. ISSN 0962-1083

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Bumblebees are major pollinators of crops and wildflowers in northern temperate regions. Knowledge of their ecology is vital for the design of effective management and conservation strategies but key aspects remain poorly understood. Here we employed microsatellite markers to estimate and compare foraging range and nest density among four UK species: Bombus terrestris, Bombus pascuorum, Bombus lapidarius, and Bombus pratorum. Workers were sampled along a 1.5-km linear transect across arable farmland. Eight or nine polymorphic microsatellite markers were then used to identify putative sisters. In accordance with previous studies, minimum estimated maximum foraging range was greatest for B. terrestris (758 m) and least for B. pascuorum (449 m). The estimate for B. lapidanus was similar to B. pascuorum (450 m), while that of B. pratorum was intermediate (674 m). Since the area of forage available to bees increases as the square of foraging range, these differences correspond to a threefold variation in the area used by bumblebee nests of different species. Possible explanations for these differences are discussed. Estimates for nest density at the times of sampling were 29, 68, 117, and 26/km2 for B. terrestris, B. pascuorum, B. lapidarius and B. pratorum, respectively. These data suggest that even among the most common British bumblebee species, significant differences in fundamental aspects of their ecology exist, a finding that should be reflected in management and conservation strategies. © 2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Catrina Hey
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 15:39
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2014 15:39
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