Forests do not limit bumble bee foraging movements in a montane meadow complex

Ecological Entomology
University of California Davis
By: , and 

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Abstract

1. Understanding the roles of habitat fragmentation and resource availability in shaping animal movement are integral for promoting species persistence and conservation. For insects like bumble bees, their movement patterns affect the survival and reproductive potential of their colonies as well as the pollen flow of plant species. However, our understanding of their mobility or the impact of putative barriers in natural environments is limited due to the technical difficulties of studying wild populations.

2. We used genetic mark-recapture to estimate the foraging distance, resource use, and site connectivity of two bumble bee species in a montane meadow complex composed of open meadows within a matrix of forest.

3. There was no evidence that forests or changes in landcover function as barriers to the fine‐scale movement for either species. Substantially greater colony‐specific foraging distances were found for Bombus vosnesenskii (maximum: 1867 m) compared to Bombus bifarius (maximum: 362 m). Despite this difference in absolute range, both species were detected across putative forest barriers at frequencies expected by uninhibited movement. Siblings separated by greater distances were more likely to be foraging on different floral species, potentially suggesting a resource‐based motivation for movement.

4. These results suggest that bumble bee foraging patterns are influenced by species-specific differences in movement capacity, with little influence of matrix composition between resource patches. They also support the perspective that habitat conservation for bumble bees should prioritize providing abundant and diverse patches of resources within species-specific movement radii with less emphasis on matrix composition.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Forests do not limit bumble bee foraging movements in a montane meadow complex
Series title Ecological Entomology
DOI 10.1111/een.12868
Edition Online First
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
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