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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2016 Oct;202(9-10):643-55. doi: 10.1007/s00359-016-1118-8. Epub 2016 Aug 5.

Body size limits dim-light foraging activity in stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini).

Author information

1
Department of Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, 1090, Vienna, Austria. martin.streinzer@univie.ac.at.
2
Department of Neurobiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, 1090, Vienna, Austria. martin.streinzer@univie.ac.at.
3
Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Rennweg 14, 1030, Vienna, Austria.
4
Department of Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, 1090, Vienna, Austria.
5
Behavioral Physiology and Sociobiology, Biozentrum, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074, Würzburg, Germany.

Abstract

Stingless bees constitute a species-rich tribe of tropical and subtropical eusocial Apidae that act as important pollinators for flowering plants. Many foraging tasks rely on vision, e.g. spatial orientation and detection of food sources and nest entrances. Meliponini workers are usually small, which sets limits on eye morphology and thus quality of vision. Limitations are expected both on acuity, and thus on the ability to detect objects from a distance, as well as on sensitivity, and thus on the foraging time window at dusk and dawn. In this study, we determined light intensity thresholds for flight under dim light conditions in eight stingless bee species in relation to body size in a Neotropical lowland rainforest. Species varied in body size (0.8-1.7 mm thorax-width), and we found a strong negative correlation with light intensity thresholds (0.1-79 lx). Further, we measured eye size, ocelli diameter, ommatidia number, and facet diameter. All parameters significantly correlated with body size. A disproportionately low light intensity threshold in the minute Trigonisca pipioli, together with a large eye parameter P eye suggests specific adaptations to circumvent the optical constraints imposed by the small body size. We discuss the implications of body size in bees on foraging behavior.

KEYWORDS:

Body size; Compound eye; Light intensity threshold; Meliponini; Vision

PMID:
27495990
PMCID:
PMC5023731
DOI:
10.1007/s00359-016-1118-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

Complaince with ethical standards Funding No funding of external funding agencies was received to conduct this study. Conflict of interest The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Animal care All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

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