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Data from: Forests do not limit bumble bee foraging movements in a montane meadow complex


Mola, John; Miller, Michael; O'Rourke, Sean; Williams, Neal (2020), Data from: Forests do not limit bumble bee foraging movements in a montane meadow complex, Dryad, Dataset,


  1. Understanding the roles of habitat fragmentation and resource availability in shaping animal movement are integral for promoting species persistence and conservation. For insects like bumble bees, their movement patterns affect the survival and reproductive potential of their colonies as well as the pollen flow of plant species. However, our understanding of their mobility or the impact of putative barriers in natural environments is limited due to the technical difficulties of studying wild populations.
  2. We used genetic mark-recapture to estimate the foraging distance, resource use, and site connectivity of two bumble bee species in a montane meadow complex composed of open meadows within a matrix of forest.
  3. There was no evidence that forests or changes in landcover function as barriers to fine-scale movement for either species. We found substantially greater colony-specific foraging distances for Bombus vosnesenskii (maximum: 1867 m) compared to B. bifarius (maximum: 362 m). Despite this difference in absolute range, we detected both species across putative forest barriers at frequencies expected by uninhibited movement. Siblings separated by greater distances were more likely to be foraging on different floral species, potentially suggesting a resource-based motivation for movement.
  4. These results suggest that bumble bee foraging patterns are influenced by species-specific differences in movement capacity, with little influence of matrix composition between resource patches. They also support the perspective that habitat conservation for bumble bees should prioritize providing abundant and diverse patches of resources within species-specific movement radii with less emphasis on matrix composition.


Genetic data are available as BAM files in the NCBI Short Read Archive (accession no. PRJNA610901). Full methods for data collection are described in the manuscript. The provided data files were processed using COLONYv2.0 and joined with the field collected data.

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All further code for generation of the manuscript figures and results can be found on github at: