Bumble bee body size variation and its consequences

Body size is a fundamental trait. Across species, size is directly related to energetics and thermoregulation. Size variation can translate to variation in resource use and in the ability to tolerate different abiotic conditions.


There are substantial and meaningful size differences between bee species, but considerable size variation also exists within species, and, for eusocial bumble bees, across castes. Yet, we have very few records of intraspecific size variation for wild bumble bees at the population or community level.


Currently, I am investigating how size variation within and between bumble bee species correlates to other life history traits, like emergence timing and diet breadth.

Previous research

Experimental plant demography

If pollinator abundances decline, what are the consequences for plant population dynamics? The Iler-CaraDonna lab is working to understand the effects of pollinator declines.

Native bees and prairie restoration

In the Cariveau Native Bee Lab, I worked in long-grass prairies, asking how native bees are colonizing prairie restorations and how those communities may differ from prairie remnants. 

Bumble bee diseases

In the RE Irwin lab, I worked with Bombus impatiens to better understand the spread and consequences of parasite infection. 

Rare plant conservation

With the North Carolina Botanical Garden, I worked with a range of rare plants, including Dionaea muscipula, the venus flytrap.

photo: James Waters

Urban bee morphology

As our world becomes more urban, it is important that we understand how vulnerable species are responding to changes in land use.

Experimental warming chambers

I use long-term data from the Duke Forest Warming Chambers to ask how arthropod communities are affected by rising temperatures.