Nest density of orange-belted bumble bees (Bombus ternarius) in Atlantic Canadian agroecosystems
LE3 .A278 2018
Bachelor of Science
Pollination services are essential for global biodiversity and agricultural production. Global pollinator declines have been well documented, putting delivery of these services at risk. Despite global importance of wild pollinators such as bumble bees (Bombus spp.), little research has investigated their nesting preferences. As a ubiquitous species in Atlantic Canada, orange-belted bumble bees (hereafter, bumble bees), B. ternarius, provide important pollination services, making them an ideal candidate for this study. Objectives of this study were (1) to use microsatellites to estimate sibling relationships (thus, indirectly, nest density) in worker bumble bees in agroecosystems and (2) to evaluate the relationships between bumble bee nest density and land cover distribution. Six microsatellites were amplified in bumble bee worker DNA and relatedness (nest density) was estimated using COLONY software. This was the first study to use ArcGIS and FRAGSTATS to evaluate the relationship between nest densities and land cover distribution. Of three selected sites, highest bumble bee nest density was found around a lowbush blueberry agroecosystem. Limitations of having only three sites prevent firm deductions but it is clear that bumble bees have complex interactions at both floral and landscape scales. Results strongly encourage future research that includes more sites as well as a detailed evaluation of bumble bee floral resource relationships. This is valuable information that would allow one to give recommendations to farmers on what or how they should supplement their crops to attract more wild pollinators to their fields, which will increase crop yields
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