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Title: Ecology and conservation genetics of Bombus distinguendus, the Great Yellow Bumblebee
Author: Charman, T. G.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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The overall aim of this study was to improve understanding of the population genetics and basic ecological requirements of B. distinguendus in order to develop management advice and to direct conservation action. I used microsatellite genetic analyses to address questions about large-scale population genetics as well as finer-scale aspects of ecology. I found that populations of B. distinguendus throughout its Scottish range showed no significant inbreeding and little, if any, diploid male production. I also found that there was considerable gene flow between sites at a local scale (3 – 55 km), with significant differentiation only arising between widely dispersed (> 100km) island groups. At a finer scale I found that B. distinguendus nests at low density and is able to forage long distances from the nest. I also used standardised transect counts of bumblebees and flowers, together with pollen load sampling, to investigate bumblebee ecology. I examined the habitat use of foraging B. distinguendus (and other bumblebee species) in both a pastoral and a mixed farming system. There were strong positive relationships between the density of bumblebees and the density of flowers. The densities of different species of bumblebee were related to the densities of flowers of different plant species. I also examined the phenology and foraging ecology of B. distinguendus in the Hebrides. I found that B. distinguendus is a “late” emerging and nesting bumblebee, with a “medium” length colony cycle. I quantified the phenology of B. distinguendus  at ten important plant species and found that no single plant species provided resources throughout this colony cycle. I also found that B. distinguendus collected pollen from a limited range of plant species. During June and July, most pollen came from members of the Fabaceae, especially red clover (Trifolium pratense). In august, members of the Asteraceae were the most important sources of pollen.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available