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Ecology. 2012 May;93(5):1049-58.

Landscape-scale resources promote colony growth but not reproductive performance of bumble bees.

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Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Variation in the availability of food resources over space and time is a likely driver of how landscape structure and composition affect animal populations. Few studies, however, have directly assessed the spatiotemporal variation in resource availability that arises from landscape pattern, or its effect on populations and population dynamic parameters. We tested the effect of floral resource availability at the landscape scale on the numbers of worker, male, and queen offspring produced by bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenśkii, colonies experimentally placed within complex agricultural-natural landscapes. We quantified flower densities in all land use types at different times of the season and then used these data to calculate spatially explicit estimates of floral resources surrounding each colony. Floral availability strongly correlated with landscape structure, and different regions of the landscape showed distinct seasonal patterns of floral availability. The floral resources available in the landscape surrounding a colony positively affected the number of workers and males it produced. Production was more sensitive to early- than to later-season resources. Floral resources did not significantly affect queen production despite a strong correlation between worker number and queen number among colonies. No landscape produced high floral resources during both the early and late season, and seasonal consistency is likely required for greater queen production. Floral resources are important determinants of colony growth and likely affect the pollination services provided by bumble bees at a landscape scale. Spatiotemporal variation in floral resources across the landscape precludes a simple relationship between resources and reproductive success as measured by queens, but nonetheless likely influences the total abundance of bumble bees in our study region.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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