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Niche overlap and diet breadth in bumblebees; are rare species more specialized in their choice of flowers?

Goulson, Dave and Darvill, Ben (2004) Niche overlap and diet breadth in bumblebees; are rare species more specialized in their choice of flowers? Apidologie, 35, (1), pp. 55-63. (doi:10.1051/apido:2003062).

Record type: Article


The ecology of all bumblebees (Bombus spp.) is similar, yet some species have declined greatly while others remain abundant. We examine whether abundance is related to diet breadth. The floral visits of bumblebees were examined on Salisbury Plain, UK. All of the species examined gathered pollen mostly from Fabaceae. All species gathered nectar from a broader range of flowers than they did pollen, and longer-tongued bees had a narrower diet breadth when collecting nectar. B. hortorum (the species with the longest tongue) specialized on Trifolium pratense. As predicted, abundant species had a broader diet than rare species. Species with similar-length tongues visiting similar flowers. However, interspecific competition did not appear to be important since species with similar tongue lengths and high niche overlap co-occurred at high abundance. We suggest that the rare species may be those with short colony cycles, in which dependence on high quality food to rear larvae quickly forces specialization.

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Published date: January 2004
Keywords: Hymenoptera, Bombus, rarity, tongue length, pollen, competition


Local EPrints ID: 57661
ISSN: 0044-8435
PURE UUID: 7e931093-7c9b-4826-b873-0da306c687af

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Date deposited: 07 Aug 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:28

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Author: Dave Goulson
Author: Ben Darvill

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