Bee dispersal ability may influence conservation measures

February 07, 2019

The abilities of various bee species to disperse influences the pattern of their population's genetic structure, which, in turn, can constrain how they respond to environmental change, as reported by an international team of researchers.

"Bees are declining around the world, which is a problem because these pollinators are critically important, both ecologically and economically," said Margarita López-Uribe, assistant professor of entomology, Penn State. "Our study has major implications for bee species conservation. For example, the ability of a species to disperse farther can enable that species to move to suitable areas under scenarios of climate change."

The team reviewed all pre-existing studies that had measured bee population genetic structure. The researchers related this population genetic structure to the bees' body size with a goal of determining whether this relationship would provide an indication of how susceptible bees are to barriers to their movement, such as the destruction of habitat due to deforestation or urbanization.

The team's results appeare online in February in Molecular Ecology.

According to López-Uribe, population genetic structure describes patterns of genetic diversity -- the basis of a population's ability to evolve and adapt to new conditions -- among populations within a species. Lower population genetic structure suggests that the genetic diversity of a species is equally distributed across its geographic range, and higher population genetic structure suggests that the genetic diversity is clustered or subdivided into groups.

In addition to body size, López-Uribe and her colleagues also examined the breadth of the bees' diets and their social behavior -- whether they are solitary species or work and live together as part of a group. The team focused on studies that used microsatellite molecular markers -- unique bits of DNA that are prone to mutations and allow scientists to quantify genetic diversity in a species and examine the pattern of that species' population genetic structure.

The scientists found that bee species with larger body sizes and social behaviors exhibit patterns of lower population genetic structure than bees with smaller bodies and solitary behaviors. The team did not find diet specialization to influence the population genetic structure of bees.

"Dispersal is hard to study in small insects," said López-Uribe. "Our study is the first to link bee body size and sociality with population genetic structure, which means we can predict which species may be at risk of local extinction based on these traits."

Antonella Soro, research assistant, Martin-Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, noted that the study also has important implications for future research.

"It confirms body size as a master trait whose variation and genetic basis should be the focus of further inquiry if we want to understand how bees adapt to a rapidly changing environment," said Soro.
-end-
Other authors on the paper include Shalene Jha, associate professor, University of Texas at Austin.

The Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation supported this research.

Penn State

Related Genetic Diversity Articles from Brightsurf:

In the Cerrado, topography explains the genetic diversity of amphibians more than land cover
Study shows that a tree frog endemic to a mountainous region of the Brazilian savanna is unable to disperse and find genetically closer mates when the terrain is rugged, potentially endangering survival of the species

New DNA sequencing technique may help unravel genetic diversity of cancer tumors
Understanding the genetic diversity of individual cells within a cancer tumor and how that might impact the disease progression has remained a challenge, due to the current limitations of genomic sequencing.

Researchers uncover the arks of genetic diversity in terrestrial mammals
Mapping the distribution of life on Earth, from genes to species to ecosystems, is essential in informing conservation policies and protecting biodiversity.

Seahorse and pipefish study by CCNY opens window to marine genetic diversity May 08, 2020
The direction of ocean currents can determine the direction of gene flow in rafting species, but this depends on species traits that allow for rafting propensity.

Study helps arboreta, botanical gardens meet genetic diversity conservation goals
In a groundbreaking study, an international team of 21 scientists evaluated five genera spanning the plant tree of life (Hibiscus, Magnolia, Pseudophoenix, Quercus and Zamia) to understand how much genetic diversity currently exists in collections in botanical gardens and arboreta worldwide.

Study reveals rich genetic diversity of Vietnam
In a new paper, Dang Liu, Mark Stoneking and colleagues have analyzed newly generated genome-wide SNP data for the Kinh and 21 additional ethnic groups in Vietnam, encompassing all five major language families in MSEA, along with previously published data from nearby populations and ancient samples.

Coastal pollution reduces genetic diversity of corals, reef resilience
A new study by researchers at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology found that human-induced environmental stressors have a large effect on the genetic composition of coral reef populations in Hawai'i.

New world map of fish genetic diversity
An international research team from ETH Zurich and French universities has studied genetic diversity among fish around the world for the first time.

Texas A&M study reveals domestic horse breed has third-lowest genetic diversity
A new study by Dr. Gus Cothran, professor emeritus at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has found that the Cleveland Bay horse breed has the third-lowest genetic variation level of domestic horses, ranking above only the notoriously inbred Friesian and Clydesdale breeds.

Genetic diversity facilitates cancer therapy
Cancer patients with more different HLA genes respond better to treatment.

Read More: Genetic Diversity News and Genetic Diversity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.