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Ecol Evol. 2015 Aug 25;5(18):3914-26. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1659. eCollection 2015 Sep.

Trade-offs in the evolution of bumblebee colony and body size: a comparative analysis.

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Lab. de Ecología; UBIPRO Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México FES Iztacala. A. P. 314 54090 Edo. México México.
Laboratorio de Biología Evolutiva Centro Tlaxcala de Biología de la Conducta Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala Carretera Tlaxcala-Puebla Km. 1.5 90062 Tlaxcala México.


Trade-offs between life-history traits - such as fecundity and survival - have been demonstrated in several studies. In eusocial insects, the number of organisms and their body sizes can affect the fitness of the colony. Large-than-average body sizes as well as more individuals can improve a colony's thermoregulation, foraging efficiency, and fecundity. However, in bumblebees, large colonies and large body sizes depend largely on high temperatures and a large amount of food resources. Bumblebee taxa can be found in temperate and tropical regions of the world and differ markedly in their colony sizes and body sizes. Variation in colony size and body size may be explained by the costs and benefits associated with the evolutionary history of each species in a particular environment. In this study, we explored the effect of temperature and precipitation (the latter was used as an indirect indicator of food availability) on the colony and body size of twenty-one bumblebee taxa. A comparative analysis controlling for phylogenetic effects as well as for the body size of queens, workers, and males in bumblebee taxa from temperate and tropical regions indicated that both temperature and precipitation affect colony and body size. We found a negative association between colony size and the rainiest trimester, and a positive association between the colony size and the warmest month of the year. In addition, male bumblebees tend to evolve larger body sizes in places where the rain occurs mostly in the summer and the overall temperature is warmer. Moreover, we found a negative relationship between colony size and body sizes of queens, workers, and males, suggesting potential trade-offs in the evolution of bumblebee colony and body size.


adaptation; body size; bumblebee; colony size; constraints; trade‐off

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