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Low parasite loads accompany the invading population of the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris in Tasmania


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Allen, GR, Seeman, OD, Schmid-Hempel, P and Buttermore, RE 2007 , 'Low parasite loads accompany the invading population of the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris in Tasmania' , Insectes Sociaux, vol. 54 , pp. 56-63 , doi: 10.1007/s00040-007-0908-y.

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In its native Europe, the bumblebee, Bombus
terrestris (L.) has co-evolved with a large array of
parasites whose numbers are negatively linked to the
genetic diversity of the colony. In Tasmania B. terrestris
was first detected in 1992 and has since spread over much
of the state. In order to understand the bee�s invasive
success and as part of a wider study into the genetic
diversity of bumblebees across Tasmania, we screened
bees for co-invasions of ectoparasitic and endoparasitic
mites, nematodes and micro-organisms, and searched
their nests for brood parasites. The only bee parasite
detected was the relatively benign acarid mite Kuzinia
laevis (Dujardin) whose numbers per bee did not vary
according to region. Nests supported no brood parasites,
but did contain the pollen-feeding life stages of K. laevis.
Upon summer-autumn collected drones and queens,
mites were present on over 80% of bees, averaged ca.
350–400 per bee and were more abundant on younger
bees. Nest searching spring queens had similar mite
numbers to those collected in summer-autumn but mite
numbers dropped significantly once spring queens began
foraging for pollen. The average number of mites per
queen bee was over 30 fold greater than that reported in
Europe. Mite incidence and mite numbers were significantly
lower on worker bees than drones or queens, being
present on just 51% of bees and averaging 38 mites per
bee. Our reported incidence of worker bee parasitism by
this mite is 5–50 times higher than reported in Europe.
That only one parasite species co-invaded Tasmania
supports the notion that a small number of queens
founded the Tasmanian population. However, it is clearly
evident that both the bee in the absence of parasites, and
the mite have been extraordinarily successful invaders.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Allen, GR and Seeman, OD and Schmid-Hempel, P and Buttermore, RE
Journal or Publication Title: Insectes Sociaux
Publisher: Birkhaeuser Verlag AG
ISSN: 0020-1812
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s00040-007-0908-y
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