Insect Genetics Lab

Native Pollinator Research


These materials are not endorsed, approved, sponsored, or provided by or on behalf of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

We are conducting research on conservation genetics of bumble bees and carpenter bees in central United States. Research on bumble bee conservation genetics is lacking, and given the recent crisis with honey bee populations in the United States, stresses the need for research on native pollinators. This research will provide valuable information on locally adapted bumble bee populations that may be at risk from climate change, impact of habitation fragmentation, and potential impact of commercially reared bumble bees for pollination purposes on locally adapted populations.

Amber Tripodi gave a presentation of her research at the International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy. Here is the abstract from her presentation:

Although there is increased interest in native pollinators due to CCD in Apis mellifera, the genetic diversity of native Bombus species in the US is largely unknown. A preliminary study on the genetic diversity of five species of bumble bees in Arkansas, Missouri & Tennessee was conducted using DNA sequences of a portion of the mtDNA 16S rRNA gene. Specimens from both museum collections & contemporary sampling were analyzed to compare genetic diversity. The highest level of genetic diversity was observed in Bombus bimaculatus, followed by B. griseocollis, B. impatiens & B. pensylvanicus. B. auricomis exhibited only one haplotype. A comparison between populations of B. bimaculatus, B. griseocollis & B. impatiens found in two heavily sampled counties (n = 49 & 53) found significant (p < 0.05) intraspecific differentiation between the populations at each location. B. bimaculatus exhibited the highest degree of differentiation (FST = 0.498) & the lowest estimated number of migrants each generation (Nm = 0.50). Genetically distinct populations are of interest in light of recent commercial transport of Bombus species as pollinators. These populations may be locally adapted & movement of commercial bumble bees of this species into this area may displace locally adapted populations.

This is an interactive map showing bumble bee (Bombus) and carpenter bee (Xylocopa) mitochondrial DNA 16S haplotypes) we have have found in the United States.  Click on the icon button for each sample to find out more information on the sample (species, haplotype, collection location, date, etc). Use the ‘+’ and ‘-’ on the map to zoom in and out.  Last updated 8/16/10.

Bombus griseocollis and Apis mellifera on a sunflower, Fayetteville, AR

A. Szalanski