Environmental filtering of body size and darker coloration in pollinator communities indicate thermal restrictions on bees, but not flies, at high elevations.
ABSTRACT: Background:Bees and flies are the two most dominant pollinator taxa in mountain environments of the Southwest USA. Communities of both taxa change dramatically along elevation gradients. We examined whether bee and fly traits would also change along elevation gradients and if so, do they change in a predictable way related to a decrease in temperature as elevation increases. Methods:We used insect body size and darkness traits as proxies for energetic requirements and indicators of cold tolerance in order to assess patterns of bee and fly community trait differences along an elevation gradient. We examined 1,922 individuals of bees and flies sampled along an elevation gradient ranging from 2,400 meters to 3,200 meters and from 9.6 °C to 5.2 °C mean annual temperature. We examined bees and flies separately using community weighted means (site-level trait values weighted by species abundance) and estimates of environmental filtering (quantified as the inverse of the standardized range of trait values). Results:Bees and flies exhibited two somewhat distinct patterns; (1) Community weighted mean body volume and darkness of bees increased sharply at the highest elevation, and the intensity of environmental filtering also increased with elevation. This was due to both a change among bee populations within a species as well as species replacement at the highest elevation. (2) Community weighted mean body volume and darkness of flies also increased moderately with increasing elevation, but did not exhibit patterns of significant environmental filtering. In fact, the intensity of environmental filtering as indicated by the range of fly body volume weakened with elevation. Conclusion:The increase in filter intensity at high elevations exhibited by bees suggests a significant limitation on the breadth of viable functional strategies for coping with extreme cold, at least within this regional species pool. Flies, on the other hand, do not appear to be limited by high elevations, indicating that the shift from bee to fly dominance at high elevations may be due, at least in part, to greater environmental constraints on bee adaptation to colder environments.
Project description:Insect pollinator communities are thought to transition from bee-dominated communities at low elevations to fly-dominated communities at high elevations. We predicted that increased tree canopy cover and a subsequent decrease in meadows and flowering plants would limit bees but not flies at higher elevations. We tested and supported this prediction by examining changes in both abundance and species richness for 128 bee species and 96 fly species at key points along an elevational gradient in Northern Arizona represented by distinct vegetation life zones. In addition to an increase in fly species and abundance relative to bees with increasing elevation, there were changes in community structure). To better understand factors that might influence this transition we examined how tree canopy cover changed along the elevational gradient and how this influenced the change in insect pollinator communities. While bee communities were progressively divergent between forest and meadow habitats with increasing elevation and tree canopy cover, there was no significant pattern with flies between meadow and forest habitats. However, fly abundance did increase with increasing elevation relative to bees. Along a comparable elevational gradient on an adjacent mountain with no tree canopy cover (i.e., a fire burned mountain), the bee-to-fly transition did not occur; bees persisted as the dominant pollinator into the highest life zone. This suggests that tree canopy cover can in part explain the transition from bee-to fly-dominated communities. In conclusion, this is the first study in North America to document a bee-fly transition for both abundance and species richness and show that tree canopy cover may play a role in determining pollinator community composition, by restricting bees to open meadow habitats.
Project description:Interaction networks are sensitive to elevation gradients through changes in local distribution of interacting partners. Here, we use plant-pollinator interaction network metrics to assess the effect of elevation on flowers and flower-visiting insect assemblages on a sentinel mountain used for monitoring climate change in the flower- and insect-rich Cape Floristic Region. We also use these interaction metrics to explain the effect of environmental factors on the interaction networks. We did this over four vegetation zones <1640m asl, as determined by former botanical studies. Overall, bees were the dominant flower visitors, followed by monkey beetles, and far behind were wasps and flies. The middle elevation zone (650-744 m a.s.l), which is also an ecotone between two distinct botanical zones, had the highest species richness and abundance of interacting plants and insects. Interaction frequency and size of network were also greatest in the middle zone, as were network diversity, generality, and linkage density, while lowest in the peak zone. In sum, there was distinct elevation zoning of flower-visiting insects. The greatest zonal change was between species at the middle compared with peak zone. Large-sized monkey beetles, bees and flies characterized the unique assemblage in the peak zone (1576-1640 m a.s.l.). The insect zonation tracked that of plant assemblages, with air temperature (lapse rate) being the primary driver of bee distribution, with lowest levels in the peak zone. In contrast, beetle distribution was driven mostly by flower assemblages as well as air temperature. In turn, wasp and fly interaction networks were not affected by any of the measured environmental variables. We conclude that increased elevation stress from reduced temperatures, changing abiotic weather conditions (e.g. strong winds at high elevations),and decline in flowering plant composition causes breakdown of interaction networks involving bees and beetles but not that of flies and wasps.
Project description:Anthropogenic landscape elements, such as roadsides, hedgerows, field edges, and power line clearings, can be managed to provide important habitats for wild bees. However, the effects of habitat improvement schemes in power line clearings on components of diversity are poorly studied. We conducted a large-scale experiment to test the effects of different management practices on the species, phylogenetic, and functional diversity of wild bees in power line clearings (n = 19 sites across southeastern Norway) and explored whether any treatment effects were modified by the environmental context. At each site, we conducted the following treatments: (1) Cut: all trees cut and left to decay in the clearing; (2) Cut + Remove: all trees cut and removed from the plot; and (3) Uncut: uncleared. The site-specific environmental context (i.e., elevation and floral diversity) influenced the species, phylogenetic, and functional diversity within bee species assemblages. The largest number of species was found in the Cut + Remove treatment in plots with a high forb species richness, indicating that the outcome of management practices depends on the environmental context. Clearing of treatment plots with many forb species also appeared to alter the phylogenetic composition of bee species assemblages, that is, more closely related species were found in the Cut and the Cut + Remove plots than in the Uncut plots. Synthesis and applications: Our experimental simulation of management practices in power line clearings influenced the species, phylogenetic, and functional diversity of bee species assemblages. Frequent clearing and removal of the woody debris at low elevations with a high forb species richness can increase the value of power line clearings for solitary bees. It is therefore important for managers to consider the environmental context when designing habitat improvement schemes for solitary bees.
Project description:Honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) queens mate early in life and store sperm for years. Male bees likely contribute significantly to sperm survival. Proteins were extracted from seminal vesicles and semen of mature drones, separated by electrophoresis, and analysed by peptide mass fingerprinting. Computer searches against three databases, general species, honey bees and fruit flies, were performed. Spectra were used to query the recently generated honey bee genome protein list as well as general species and fruit fly databases. Of the 69 unique honey bee proteins found, 66 are also in Drosophila melanogaster. Two proteins only matched honey bee genes and one is a widespread protein lost from the fly genome. There is over-representation of genes implicated in the glycolysis pathway. Metabolism-associated proteins were found primarily in the seminal vesicle. Male accessory gland proteins as identified in Drosophila rarely had orthologs among proteins found in the honey bee. A complete listing of gel spots chosen including honey bee genome matches and Mascot searches of MALDI-TOF results with statistics is in the Supplementary table. MALDI-TOF spectra and more complete Mascot peptide mass fingerprinting data are available on request. Supplementary figs 1-3 show the stained protein gels.
Project description:Wild and managed bees are well documented as effective pollinators of global crops of economic importance. However, the contributions by pollinators other than bees have been little explored despite their potential to contribute to crop production and stability in the face of environmental change. Non-bee pollinators include flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, wasps, ants, birds, and bats, among others. Here we focus on non-bee insects and synthesize 39 field studies from five continents that directly measured the crop pollination services provided by non-bees, honey bees, and other bees to compare the relative contributions of these taxa. Non-bees performed 25-50% of the total number of flower visits. Although non-bees were less effective pollinators than bees per flower visit, they made more visits; thus these two factors compensated for each other, resulting in pollination services rendered by non-bees that were similar to those provided by bees. In the subset of studies that measured fruit set, fruit set increased with non-bee insect visits independently of bee visitation rates, indicating that non-bee insects provide a unique benefit that is not provided by bees. We also show that non-bee insects are not as reliant as bees on the presence of remnant natural or seminatural habitat in the surrounding landscape. These results strongly suggest that non-bee insect pollinators play a significant role in global crop production and respond differently than bees to landscape structure, probably making their crop pollination services more robust to changes in land use. Non-bee insects provide a valuable service and provide potential insurance against bee population declines.
Project description:Most flowering plants species rely on insects for pollination, a successful mutualism allowing them to reproduce over wide areas while flower-visitors are rewarded with food. This association is so conspicuous in the case of bees that other groups of potential pollinators, especially flies, have long been underestimated. However, visitors are not always pollinators. While the importance of flies in plant-visitor networks is now acknowledged, their pollination effectiveness has hardly been investigated. In this study, we assessed the pollination effectiveness of Geranium sylvaticum flower-visitors using single-visit seed set experiments, in a subalpine meadow where flies are predominant. We found that: (i) empidine dance flies were the most frequent visitors of G. sylvaticum; (ii) a single-visit by an empidine dance fly produced the same average number of seeds as a visit by a bee; (iii) large pollinators were more efficient than small pollinators irrespective of their identity. As a conclusion, large empidines were the main pollinators of G. sylvaticum. Considering the high diversity and abundance of flower-visiting fly species, such results showing their ability to be as effective pollinators as bees should encourage further studies to develop a better understanding on their role in plant-pollinator networks.
Project description:Well-known epigenetic DNA modifications in mammals include the addition of a methyl group and a hydroxyl group to cytosine, resulting in 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) respectively. In contrast, the abundance and the functional implications of these modifications in invertebrate model organisms such as the honey bee (Apis mellifera) and the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) are not well understood. Here we show that both adult honey bees and fruit flies contain 5mC and also 5hmC. Using a highly sensitive liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) technique, we quantified 5mC and 5hmC in different tissues of adult honey bee worker castes and in adult fruit flies. A comparison of our data with reports from human and mouse shed light on notable differences in 5mC and 5hmC levels between tissues and species.
Project description:Several fungal plant pathogens induce 'pseudoflowers' on their hosts to facilitate insect-mediated transmission of gametes and spores. When spores must be transmitted to host flowers to complete the fungal life cycle, we predict that pseudoflowers should evolve traits that mimic flowers and attract the most effective vectors in the flower-visiting community. We quantified insect visitation to flowers, healthy leaves and leaves infected with Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi (Mvc), the causative agent of mummy berry disease of blueberry. We developed a nested PCR assay for detecting Mvc spores on bees, flies and other potential insect vectors. We also collected volatiles from blueberry flowers, healthy leaves and leaves infected with Mvc, and experimentally manipulated specific pathogen-induced volatiles to assess attractiveness to potential vectors. Bees and flies accounted for the majority of contacts with flowers, leaves infected with Mvc and healthy leaves. Flowers were contacted most often, while there was no difference between bee or fly contacts with healthy and infected leaves. While bees contacted flowers more often than flies, flies contacted infected leaves more often than bees. Bees were more likely to have Mvc spores on their bodies than flies, suggesting that bees may be more effective vectors than flies for transmitting Mvc spores to flowers. Leaves infected with Mvc had volatile profiles distinct from healthy leaves but similar to flowers. Two volatiles produced by flowers and infected leaves, cinnamyl alcohol and cinnamic aldehyde, were attractive to bees, while no volatiles manipulated were attractive to flies or any other insects. These results suggest that Mvc infection of leaves induces mimicry of floral volatiles, and that transmission occurs primarily via bees, which had the highest likelihood of carrying Mvc spores and visited flowers most frequently.
Project description:Pesticides can pose environmental risks, and a common neonicotinoid pesticide, thiamethoxam, decreases homing success in honey bees. Neonicotinoids can alter bee navigation, but we present the first evidence that neonicotinoid exposure alone can impair the physical ability of bees to fly. We tested the effects of acute or chronic exposure to thiamethoxam on the flight ability of foragers in flight mills. Within 1?h of consuming a single sublethal dose (1.34?ng/bee), foragers showed excitation and significantly increased flight duration (+78%) and distance (+72%). Chronic exposure significantly decreased flight duration (-54%), distance (-56%), and average velocity (-7%) after either one or two days of continuous exposure that resulted in bees ingesting field-relevant thiamethoxam doses of 1.96-2.90?ng/bee/day. These results provide the first demonstration that acute or chronic exposure to a neonicotinoid alone can significantly alter bee flight. Such exposure may impair foraging and homing, which are vital to normal colony function and ecosystem services.
Project description:Honey bee colonies are subject to numerous pathogens and parasites. Interaction among multiple pathogens and parasites is the proposed cause for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a syndrome characterized by worker bees abandoning their hive. Here we provide the first documentation that the phorid fly Apocephalus borealis, previously known to parasitize bumble bees, also infects and eventually kills honey bees and may pose an emerging threat to North American apiculture. Parasitized honey bees show hive abandonment behavior, leaving their hives at night and dying shortly thereafter. On average, seven days later up to 13 phorid larvae emerge from each dead bee and pupate away from the bee. Using DNA barcoding, we confirmed that phorids that emerged from honey bees and bumble bees were the same species. Microarray analyses of honey bees from infected hives revealed that these bees are often infected with deformed wing virus and Nosema ceranae. Larvae and adult phorids also tested positive for these pathogens, implicating the fly as a potential vector or reservoir of these honey bee pathogens. Phorid parasitism may affect hive viability since 77% of sites sampled in the San Francisco Bay Area were infected by the fly and microarray analyses detected phorids in commercial hives in South Dakota and California's Central Valley. Understanding details of phorid infection may shed light on similar hive abandonment behaviors seen in CCD.