Bumble bee nest abundance, foraging distance, and host-plant reproduction: Implications for management and conservation

  • Geib J
  • Strange J
  • Galen A
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Recent reports of global declines in pollinator species imply an urgent need to assess the abundance of native pollinators and density-dependent benefits for linked plants. In this study, we investigated (1) pollinator nest distributions and estimated colony abundances, (2) the relationship between abundances of foraging workers and the number of nests they represent, (3) pollinator foraging ranges, and (4) the relationship between pollinator abundance and plant reproduction. We examined these questions in an alpine ecosystem in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, focusing on four alpine bumble bee species (Bombus balteatus, B. flavifrons, B. bifarius, and B. sylvicola), and two host plants that differ in their degrees of pollinator specialization (Trifolium dasyphyllum and T. parryi). Using microsatellites, we found that estimated colony abundances among Bombus species ranged from ~18 to 78 colonies/0.01 km2. The long-tongued species B. balteatus was most common, especially high above treeline, but the subalpi...

Author-supplied keywords

  • Alpine ecosystem
  • Bombus spp.
  • Bumble bees
  • Colony density
  • Colorado
  • Density dependence
  • Foraging range
  • Host-plant fecundity
  • Pennsylvania mountain
  • Pollination services
  • Pollinator monitoring
  • Spatial distribution
  • Trifolium dasyphyllum
  • Trifolium parryi
  • USA

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  • Jennifer C. Geib

  • James P. Strange

  • Andace Galen

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