Effects of introduced bees on native ecosystems

Goulson, D (2003) Effects of introduced bees on native ecosystems. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 34. pp. 1-26. ISSN 1543-592X

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Bees are generally regarded as beneficial insects for their role in pollination, and in the case of the honeybee Apis mellifera, for production of honey. As a result several bee species have been introduced to countries far beyond their home range, including A. mellifera, bumblebees (Bombus sp.), the alfalfa leafcutter bee Megachile rotundata, and various other solitary species. Possible negative consequences of these introductions include: competition with native pollinators for floral resources; competition for nest sites; co-introduction of natural enemies, particularly pathogens that may infect native organisms; pollination of exotic weeds; and disruption of pollination of native plants. For most exotic bee species little or nothing is known of these possible effects. Research to date has focused mainly on A. mellifera, and has largely been concerned with detecting competition with native flower visitors. Considerable circumstantial evidence has accrued that competition does occur, but no experiment has clearly demonstrated long-term reductions in populations of native organisms. Most researchers agree that this probably reflects the difficulty of carrying out convincing studies of competition between such mobile organisms, rather than a genuine absence of competitive effects. Effects on seed set of exotic weeds are easier to demonstrate. Exotic bees often exhibit marked preferences for visiting flowers of exotic plants. For example, in Australia and New Zealand many weeds from Europe are now visited by European honeybees and bumblebees. Introduced bees are primary pollinators of a number of serious weeds. Negative impacts of exotic bees need to be carefully assessed before further introductions are carried out.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Catrina Hey
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 15:30
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2014 15:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/51245
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