Fhallon Ware-Gilmore, 2016

University of West Alabama

What’s Eating the Bee? Investigating bumble bees and their parasites in two landscape contexts

There has been a recent increase in the investigation of environmental problems produced by anthropogenic degradation. Bio indicators are one method used to assess the stability and health of ecosystems. Bee pollinators are an ecosystem component currently under threat. Bees are fundamental pollinators of crops and wildflowers. They are responsible for pollinating worldwide over 400 different agricultural types of plant. Bumblebee’s face a variety of pressures that influence their survival rates. The study of the interaction of non-hymenopteran (N-H) parasitoid communities in trophic systems is particularly understudied; however recent works suggest that parasitoids are strong bioindicators of environmental health. Due to their high trophic level position and specificity, parasitoids are an ideal "indicator" for community stability. This study was conducted in order to determine the prevalence of conopids and mites for two species of bumblebees(B. impatiens, B. bimaculatus) at twelve different locations in urban and rural environments. The second study in this project aimed to determine if peak prevalence for mites and conopids differed between two landscape contexts. A total of three sampling periods were accounted for from June to July 2016.Before being placed in housing, bees were assessed for mites. After death, bees were inspected or dissected in order to determine rates of conopid parasitism. Though it was predicted that prevalence would differ between sites and across multiple samplings, and that country sites would have a higher prevalence of both conopid flies and mites our hypothesis was not supported. We found that mite prevalence was affected by round and location type. However, conopid prevalence was not impacted by location type or round. The variation in this study gives cause for further research understanding the effects of landscape fragmentation and urbanization on trophic interactions.

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