Chynna Taylor, 2015

Mt. Holyoke College

Does Restoration Affect Parasite Levels in Bumblebees?

Bumblebees are fundamental wild pollinators and facilitators of floral biodiversity across a variety of ecosystems. Within the past 20 to 30 years, worldwide declines in pollinator populations have led to alarm about the potential implications of this decline, and have led to increased efforts by conservationists and citizen scientists to reverse these declines. Though determination of the causal factors is difficult, the use of biological indicators may be a useful alternative to traditional population survey methods. In my study, I compared the rate of infection of Bombus impatiens, a bumblebee species common to Northern Virginia, by conopid flies (genus Physocephala), a parasitoid which primarily uses bumblebees as hosts, at restored meadow and roadside sites. I collected B. impatiens individuals opportunistically at eleven sites and waited for natural death of bees. After death, I inspected or dissected bees in order to determine rates of conopid parasitism. Though I predicted that I rates of parasitism would be higher in meadow sites, my hypothesis was not supported. I did find great amounts of variation between sites and habitats that gives cause for further study in the area of conservation success.

Blandy REU Program Overview