Bumble bee body size variation and its consequences

Body size is a fundamental trait. Size directly relates to energetics and thermoregulation, and size variation can translate to variation in resource use and the ability to tolerate different abiotic conditions. In bees, interspecific size variation is substantial and functionally meaningful. Yet, within-species size variation is poorly understood, and it is largely unknown how this variation may relate to other aspect of bees’ natural history.

 

This knowledge gap is particularly important in the context of climate change. There is substantial evidence that large-bodied bees are declining and bee body size is decreasing. If climate change is shifting or constraining bee body size, there will likely be strong effects on pollination services. My dissertation is helping develop a more holistic understanding of the consequences of size variation within and between bee species.

Previous research

Experimental plant demography
Native bees and prairie restoration
Bumble bee diseases

photo: James Waters

Rare plant conservation
Urban bee morphology
Experimental warming chambers