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López‐Aguilar, T. P., J. Montalva, B. Vilela, M. P. Arbetman, M. A. Aizen, C. L. Morales, and D. de P. Silva. 2024. Niche analyses and the potential distribution of four invasive bumblebees worldwide. Ecology and Evolution 14. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.11200

The introduction of bees for agricultural production in distinct parts of the world and poor management have led to invasion processes that affect biodiversity, significantly impacting native species. Different Bombus species with invasive potential have been recorded spreading in different regions worldwide, generating ecological and economic losses. We applied environmental niche and potential distribution analyses to four species of the genus Bombus to evaluate the similarities and differences between their native and invaded ranges. We found that B. impatiens has an extended environmental niche, going from dry environmental conditions in the native range to warmer and wetter conditions in the invaded range. Bombus ruderatus also exhibited an extended environmental niche with drier and warmer conditions in the invaded range than in its native range. Bombus subterraneus expanded its environmental niche from cooler and wetter conditions in the native range to drier and warmer conditions in the invaded range. Finally, B. terrestris showed the most significant variation in the environmental niche, extending to areas with similar and different environmental conditions from its native range. The distribution models agreed with the known distributions for the four Bombus species, presenting geographic areas known to be occupied by each species in different regions worldwide. The niche analysis indicate shifts in the niches from the native to the invaded distribution area of the bee species. Still, niche similarities were observed in the areas of greatest suitability in the potential distribution for B. ruderatus, B. subterraneus, and B. terrestris, and to a lesser degree in the same areas with B. impatiens. These species require similar environmental conditions as in their native ranges to be established in their introduced ranges. Still, they can adapt to changes in temperature and humidity, allowing them to expand their ranges into new climatic conditions.

Felix, F., L. Julia, O. Michael, X. Tingting, G. Shikun, G. Elia, T. Tina, et al. 2024. Home-and-away comparisons of life history traits indicate enemy release and founder effects of the solitary bee, Megachile sculpturalis. Basic and Applied Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2024.02.008

Occurrences of introduced and invasive pollinators are increasing worldwide. To predict the potential impacts of exotic bees on native ecosystems we need to understand their ecological interactions. Life history traits are fundamental for understanding ecological interactions and often help to explain the spread of exotic species. We conducted home-and-away comparisons of life history traits of the first invasive bee in Europe, the sculptured resin bee Megachile sculpturalis Smith 1853. We compiled information on nest architecture, offspring, natural enemies, body size and phenology using published literature, museum specimen, data from citizen science initiatives, field observations and reared specimen. Megachile sculpturalis uses a broad variety of nesting materials for brood cell construction, including even plastic at the exotic range. Body size at warm temperate climate was similar in the native and exotic ranges, but phenology shifted forward by about one month (28.9 ± 3.3 SE days) in the exotic ranges. The abundance of natural enemies was similar between native and exotic ranges but specialist enemies were missing in the exotic ranges. These trait shifts may be explained by founder effects or ecological filtering. The comparison of life history traits in native and exotic ranges sheds light on the ecological-evolutionary process of this quickly spreading species and provides a better understanding of invasion processes in solitary bees.

Feuerborn, C., G. Quinlan, R. Shippee, T. L. Strausser, T. Terranova, C. M. Grozinger, and H. M. Hines. 2023. Variance in heat tolerance in bumble bees correlates with species geographic range and is associated with several environmental and biological factors. Ecology and Evolution 13. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.10730

Globally, insects have been impacted by climate change, with bumble bees in particular showing range shifts and declining species diversity with global warming. This suggests heat tolerance is a likely factor limiting the distribution and success of these bees. Studies have shown high intraspecific variance in bumble bee thermal tolerance, suggesting biological and environmental factors may be impacting heat resilience. Understanding these factors is important for assessing vulnerability and finding environmental solutions to mitigate effects of climate change. In this study, we assess whether geographic range variation in bumble bees in the eastern United States is associated with heat tolerance and further dissect which other biological and environmental factors explain variation in heat sensitivity in these bees. We examine heat tolerance by caste, sex, and rearing condition (wild/lab) across six eastern US bumble bee species, and assess the role of age, reproductive status, body size, and interactive effects of humidity and temperature on thermal tolerance in Bombus impatiens. We found marked differences in heat tolerance by species that correlate with each species' latitudinal range, habitat, and climatic niche, and we found significant variation in thermal sensitivity by caste and sex. Queens had considerably lower heat tolerance than workers and males, with greater tolerance when queens would first be leaving their natal nest, and lower tolerance after ovary activation. Wild bees tended to have higher heat tolerance than lab reared bees, and body size was associated with heat tolerance only in wild‐caught foragers. Humidity showed a strong interaction with heat effects, pointing to the need to regulate relative humidity in thermal assays and consider its role in nature. Altogether, we found most tested biological conditions impact thermal tolerance and highlight the stages of these bees that will be most sensitive to future climate change.

Pelletier, D., and J. R. K. Forrest. 2022. Pollen specialisation is associated with later phenology in Osmia bees (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Ecological Entomology. https://doi.org/10.1111/een.13211

Species exhibit a range of specialisation in diet and other niche axes, with specialists typically thought to be more efficient in resource use but more vulnerable to extinction than generalists. Among herbivorous insects, dietary specialists seem more likely to lack acceptable host plants during the insect's feeding stage, owing to fluctuations in host‐plant abundance or phenology. Like other herbivores, bee species vary in host breadth from pollen specialisation (oligolecty) to generalisation (polylecty).Several studies have shown greater interannual variation in flowering phenology for earlier‐flowering plants than later‐flowering plants, suggesting that early‐season bees may experience substantial year‐to‐year variation in the floral taxa available to them.It was therefore reasoned that, among bees, early phenology could be a more viable strategy for generalists, which can use resources from multiple floral taxa, than for specialists. Consequently, it was expected that the median dates of collection of adult specimens to be earlier for generalist species than for specialists. To test this, phenology data and pollen diet information on 67 North American species of the bee genus Osmia was obtained.Controlling for latitude and phylogeny, it was found that dietary generalisation is associated with significantly earlier phenology, with generalists active, on average, 11–14 days earlier than specialists.This result is consistent with the generalist strategy being more viable than the specialist strategy for species active in early spring, suggesting that dietary specialisation may constrain the evolution of bee phenology—or vice versa.

Christman, M. E., L. R. Spears, J. B. U. Koch, T.-T. T. Lindsay, J. P. Strange, C. L. Barnes, and R. A. Ramirez. 2022. Captive Rearing Success and Critical Thermal Maxima of Bombus griseocollis (Hymenoptera: Apidae): A Candidate for Commercialization? J. Brunet [ed.],. Journal of Insect Science 22. https://doi.org/10.1093/jisesa/ieac064

Abstract Commercialized bumble bees (Bombus) are primary pollinators of several crops within open field and greenhouse settings. However, the common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens Cresson, 1863) is the only species widely available for purchase in North America. As an eastern species, concerns have been expressed over their transportation outside of their native range. Therefore, there is a need to identify regionally appropriate candidates for commercial crop pollination services, especially in the western U.S.A. In this study, we evaluated the commercialization potential of brown-belted bumble bees (Bombus griseocollis De Geer, 1773), a broadly distributed species throughout the U.S.A., by assessing nest initiation and establishment rates of colonies produced from wild-caught gynes, creating a timeline of colony development, and identifying lab-reared workers’ critical thermal maxima (CTMax) and lethal temperature (ecological death). From 2019 to 2021, 70.6% of the wild-caught B. griseocollis gynes produced brood in a laboratory setting. Of these successfully initiated nests, 74.8% successfully established a nest (produced a worker), providing guidance for future rearing efforts. Additionally, lab-reared workers produced from wild-caught B. griseocollis gynes had an average CTMax of 43.5°C and an average lethal temperature of 46.4°C, suggesting B. griseocollis can withstand temperatures well above those commonly found in open field and greenhouse settings. Overall, B. griseocollis should continue to be evaluated for commercial purposes throughout the U.S.A.

Xie, Y., H. T. Thammavong, and D. S. Park. 2022. The ecological implications of intra‐ and inter‐species variation in phenological sensitivity. New Phytologist. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.18361

●Plant‐pollinator mutualisms rely upon the synchrony of interacting taxa. Climate change can disrupt this synchrony as phenological responses to climate vary within and across species. However, intra‐ and interspecific variation in phenological responses is seldom considered simultaneously, limiting our understanding of climate change impacts on interactions among taxa across their ranges.●We investigated how variation in phenological sensitivity to climate can alter ecological interactions simultaneously within and among species using natural history collections and citizen science data. We focus on a unique system, comprising a wide‐ranged spring ephemeral with varying color morphs (Claytonia virginica) and its specialist bee pollinator (Andrena erigeniae).●We found strongly opposing trends in the phenological sensitivities of plants versus their pollinators. Flowering phenology was more sensitive to temperature in warmer regions, whereas bee phenology was more responsive in colder regions. Phenological sensitivity varied across flower color morphs. Temporal synchrony between flowering and pollinator activity were predicted to change heterogeneously across the species’ ranges in the future.●Our work demonstrates the complexity and fragility of ecological interactions in time and the necessity of incorporating variation in phenological responses across multiple axes to understand how such interactions will change in the future.

Boyd, R. J., M. A. Aizen, R. M. Barahona‐Segovia, L. Flores‐Prado, F. E. Fontúrbel, T. M. Francoy, M. Lopez‐Aliste, et al. 2022. Inferring trends in pollinator distributions across the Neotropics from publicly available data remains challenging despite mobilization efforts Y. Fourcade [ed.],. Diversity and Distributions 28: 1404–1415. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13551

Aim Aggregated species occurrence data are increasingly accessible through public databases for the analysis of temporal trends in the geographic distributions of species. However, biases in these data present challenges for statistical inference. We assessed potential biases in data available through GBIF on the occurrences of four flower-visiting taxa: bees (Anthophila), hoverflies (Syrphidae), leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae) and hummingbirds (Trochilidae). We also assessed whether and to what extent data mobilization efforts improved our ability to estimate trends in species' distributions. Location The Neotropics. Methods We used five data-driven heuristics to screen the data for potential geographic, temporal and taxonomic biases. We began with a continental-scale assessment of the data for all four taxa. We then identified two recent data mobilization efforts (2021) that drastically increased the quantity of records of bees collected in Chile available through GBIF. We compared the dataset before and after the addition of these new records in terms of their biases and estimated trends in species' distributions. Results We found evidence of potential sampling biases for all taxa. The addition of newly-mobilized records of bees in Chile decreased some biases but introduced others. Despite increasing the quantity of data for bees in Chile sixfold, estimates of trends in species' distributions derived using the postmobilization dataset were broadly similar to what would have been estimated before their introduction, albeit more precise. Main conclusions Our results highlight the challenges associated with drawing robust inferences about trends in species' distributions using publicly available data. Mobilizing historic records will not always enable trend estimation because more data do not necessarily equal less bias. Analysts should carefully assess their data before conducting analyses: this might enable the estimation of more robust trends and help to identify strategies for effective data mobilization. Our study also reinforces the need for targeted monitoring of pollinators worldwide.

Lanner, J., N. Dubos, B. Geslin, B. Leroy, C. Hernández-Castellano, J. B. Dubaić, L. Bortolotti, et al. 2022. On the road: Anthropogenic factors drive the invasion risk of a wild solitary bee species. Science of The Total Environment 827: 154246. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154246

Complex biotic networks of invaders and their new environments pose immense challenges for researchers aiming to predict current and future occupancy of introduced species. This might be especially true for invasive bees, as they enter novel trophic interactions. Little attention has been paid to so…

Straffon-Díaz, S., L. Carisio, A. Manino, P. Biella, and M. Porporato. 2021. Nesting, Sex Ratio and Natural Enemies of the Giant Resin Bee in Relation to Native Species in Europe. Insects 12: 545. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060545

Megachile sculpturalis (Smith, 1853) is the first exotic bee species in Europe. Its remarkably fast expansion across this continent is leading to a growing concern on the extent of negative impacts to the native fauna. To evaluate the interactions of exotic bees with local wild bees, we set up trap …