Sociogenetics and behavioural ecology of the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

Brock, Ryan (2021) Sociogenetics and behavioural ecology of the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum). Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Understanding the causes of ecological success in pollinators and the basis of social evolution across all organisms represent goals of broad interest to ecologists and evolutionary biologists. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to advance our knowledge of each of these topics through investigating the sociogenetics and behavioural ecology of the range-expanding bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum. Genetic analyses using microsatellite markers to quantify neutral genetic variation and levels of diploid male production revealed that the UK B. hypnorum population did not undergo a genetic bottleneck upon its 2001 colonisation of the UK, suggesting that this population does not represent, as previously suggested, an example of the genetic paradox of invasion (ecological success despite low genetic diversity). Analyses of host-parasite interactions between B. hypnorum and the generalist nematode parasite Sphaerularia bombi revealed that B. hypnorum exhibits partial resistance to the castrating effects of S. bombi observed in other bumblebees and may represent a ‘dead-end’ host for S. bombi. Such resistance could facilitate B. hypnorum’s ecological success and could benefit long-established UK bumblebee species through parasite dilution. Characterisation of the colony demography of B. hypnorum revealed that queen longevity was positively associated with lifetime reproductive success and that B. hypnorum exhibits proportionately higher levels of new queen production than bumblebees with stable population trends, which might also contribute to the UK population's rapid growth. Finally, behavioural and genetic analyses of B. hypnorum colonies revealed that queen-worker conflict over male parentage is resolved almost exclusively by queen policing, demonstrating the diversity of conflict resolution strategies across eusocial insects. Overall, these findings increase our understanding of ecological success in a key group of pollinating insects and of the evolution of conflict resolution in eusocial societies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2022 13:26
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2022 13:26

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