Insights from genetics into the fine-scale ecology of common and scarce bumblebees

Carvell, Claire; Dreier, Stephanie; Sumner, Seirian; Wang, Jinliang; Bourke, Andrew; Heard, Matthew. 2012 Insights from genetics into the fine-scale ecology of common and scarce bumblebees. [Speech] In: IUSSI North-West European Section Winter Meeting 2012, London, 10 Dec 2012. (Unpublished)

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Bumblebees are important pollinators of food crops and wild plants, but their populations are in decline. Although bumblebees have been well-studied in some respects, fundamental aspects of their ecology remain unknown. We are using a novel combination of molecular genetics, intensive field studies and landscape modelling to determine the fine-scale spatial genetic structure of nest-founding queens and foraging workers, as a tool for predicting the impact of habitat structure on foraging range and dispersal. Here we present results from two of our five study species: B. hortorum which remains common and B. ruderatus which is nationally scarce in the UK. Using microsatellite markers, we reconstructed sibships for workers collected across a varied agricultural landscape. We detected lower colony densities in the rare B. ruderatus but greater colony-specific foraging distances than in B. hortorum. We discuss the implications of our findings for the targeting of strategies such as agri-environment schemes for reversing bumblebee declines. This project is funded under the UK Insect Pollinators Initiative.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Speech)
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 3 - Managing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Environment
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
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Date made live: 10 Jan 2013 10:45 +0 (UTC)

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