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Data from: Patterns of range-wide genetic variation in six North American bumble bee (Apidae: Bombus) species

Cite this dataset

Lozier, Jeffrey D.; Strange, James P.; Stewart, Isaac J.; Cameron, Sydney A. (2011). Data from: Patterns of range-wide genetic variation in six North American bumble bee (Apidae: Bombus) species [Dataset]. Dryad.


The increasing evidence for population declines in bumble bee (Bombus) species worldwide has accelerated research efforts to explain losses in these important pollinators. In North America, a number of once widespread Bombus species have suffered serious reductions in range and abundance, although other species remain healthy. To examine whether declining and stable species exhibit different levels of genetic diversity or population fragmentation, we genotyped a set of microsatellite markers from populations sampled across the geographic distributions of two declining (B. occidentalis; B. pensylvanicus) and four stable (B. bifarius; B. vosnesenskii; B. impatiens; B. bimaculatus) Bombus species. Populations of declining species generally have reduced levels of genetic diversity throughout their range compared to co-distributed stable species. Genetic diversity can be affected by overall range size and degree of isolation of local populations, potentially confounding comparisons among species in some cases. We find no evidence for consistent differences in gene flow among stable and declining species, with all species exhibiting weak genetic differentiation over large distances (e.g., >1,000 km). Populations on islands and at high elevations experience relatively strong genetic drift, suggesting that some conditions lead to genetic isolation in otherwise weakly differentiated species. Bombus bifarius and B. occidentalis exhibit stronger genetic differentiation than the other species, indicating more complex phylogeographic histories consistent with their broader geographic distributions across western North America. Screening genetic diversity in North American Bombus may prove to be useful for identifying species that warrant monitoring, and developing management strategies that promote high levels of gene flow will be a key component in efforts to maintain healthy bumble bee populations.

Usage notes


North America