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Zookeys. 2019 Jun 3;851:71-89. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.851.32956. eCollection 2019.

Species composition and elevational distribution of bumble bees (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Bombus Latreille) in the East Himalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, India.

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Department of Neurobiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria University of Vienna Vienna Austria.
Department of Zoology, Rajiv Gandhi University, Rono Hills, Doimukh, Papum Pare, Arunachal Pradesh 791112, India Rajiv Gandhi University Papum Pare India.
Obergrubstraße 18, 5161 Elixhausen, Austria Unaffiliated Elixhausen Austria.
National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bellary Road, Bengaluru 560065, Karnataka, India Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Bangalore India.
Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology (Zoology III), Biocenter, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany University of Würzburg Würzburg Germany.
Department of Zoology and Environmental Sciences, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab 147002, India Punjabi University Patiala India.
Department of Behavioral Physiology and Sociobiology (Zoology II), Biocenter, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Bangalore India.


The East Himalaya is one of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems. However, very little is known about the abundance and distribution of many plant and animal taxa in this region. Bumble bees are a group of cold-adapted and high elevation insects that fulfil an important ecological and economical function as pollinators of wild and agricultural flowering plants and crops. The Himalayan mountain range provides ample suitable habitats for bumble bees. Systematic study of Himalayan bumble bees began a few decades ago and the main focus has centred on the western region, while the eastern part of the mountain range has received little attention and only a few species have been verified. During a three-year survey, more than 700 bumble bee specimens of 21 species were collected in Arunachal Pradesh, the largest of the north-eastern states of India. The material included a range of species that were previously known from a limited number of collected specimens, which highlights the unique character of the East Himalayan ecosystem. Our results are an important first step towards a future assessment of species distribution, threat, and conservation. Clear elevation patterns of species diversity were observed, which raise important questions about the functional adaptations that allow bumble bees to thrive in this particularly moist region in the East Himalaya.


Apidae ; Alpine habitats; conservation; global change; insect collection; pollination

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