Pollen transport differs among bees and flies in a human-modified landscape

Rader, Romina, Edwards, Will, Westcott, David A., Cunningham, Saul A., and Howlett, Bradley G. (2011) Pollen transport differs among bees and flies in a human-modified landscape. Diversity and Distributions, 17 (3). pp. 519-529.

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Aim: Dispersal distances of insect pollinators are critical in defining their contribution to landscape-wide pollen movement and ultimately gene flow in natural and agricultural systems. We ask whether bee and fly pollinator taxa differ in their dispersal distances and transport of viable pollen in a human-modified system.

Location: Canterbury and Otago region, South Island, New Zealand.

Methods: We captured pollen-carrying insects travelling outside of a model mass-flowering agricultural crop, Brassica rapa, using insect flight intercept traps at five distances (0, 100, 200, 300 and 400 m) from the pollen source. We examined pollen loads and pollen viability to determine whether pollen transport distance and viability differ among pollinator taxa.

Results: A total of 5453 insects were collected of which 717 individuals from 26 insect taxa were positively identified as dispersing pollen up to 400 m from the source. These taxa consisted of four species from two bee families (Hymenoptera: Apidae and Halictidae), and eight species from four fly families (Diptera: Bibiondae, Stratiomyidae, Syrphidae and Tachinidae). Apidae generally carried higher pollen loads and more viable pollen than most fly taxa. Taxa in the fly families Stratiomyidae and Syrphidae, however, carried pollen to 400 m, which is further than both bee families.

Main conclusions: A diverse array of wild and managed flower visitors can transport viable pollen from a pollen source to at least 400 m. Knowledge of the differences in transport distances among generalist pollinators in human-modified environments is crucial to understand the potential extent to which (1) pollen transport can facilitate gene flow and (2) unwanted hybridization may occur between crops and related weeds.

Item ID: 19671
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-4642
Keywords: Diptera, dispersal, distance, gene flow, hymenoptera, mobility, viability
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2012 02:57
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 60%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960599 Ecosystem Assessment and Management not elsewhere classified @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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