A taxonomic survey assessing the influence of introduced Bombus terrestris populations on plant and bee biodiversity in the Judean Hills

Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

Guy Bloch, Noam Bar-Shai, Avi Shmida
 
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 91904
 
Wild and cultivated plant species depend on different pollinators for their reproduction. These critical pollination services to natural and agricultural ecosystems, are provided by wild bees which therefore have pivotal influence on biodiversity. It is important to characterize bee biodiversity and assess the vulnerability of the bee fauna to abiotic and biotic changes in the environment. Recent studies suggest that invasive bumble bee populations in Israel, as in other places in the world, compete with natural bee species and may lead to profound changes in plant and pollinators' biodiversity. In order to assess the risks that both plants and native bees are subject to them by the B. terrestrisinvasion, we propose to characterize the plant species that are visited by B. terrestris and the native bee species that also visit them, and therefore are subject to competition from B. terrestris. Our research goals are: 1) Compose an updated list of flowering plant species that are visited by B. terrestris. 2) Compose an updated list of native bee species that visit key plants that are also visited by B. terrestris. These bees may experience severe competition from introduced bumblebees. 3) Determine the temporal pattern of B. terrestris visitation to key flower species. This may provide critical information for determining whether invasive B. terrestris compete with local species by early arrival and depletion of floral resources. To meet these goals we will collect detailed taxonomic information for wild bee species and flowering plants in three representative locations in the Judean Hills.

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