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      Nesting in bark – the peculiar life history of the rare boreoalpine osmiine bee Osmia (Melanosmia) nigriventris (Hymenoptera, Megachilidae)

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      Alpine Entomology

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Osmia (Melanosmia) nigriventris (Zetterstedt) is a predominantly boreoalpine megachilid bee species, whose biology is poorly known due to its pronounced rarity all over Central Europe. The discovery of 19 nests in the Grisons and Valais (Switzerland) allowed for the investigation of its nesting biology and prompted the assessment of the species’ host-plant spectrum, phenology and distribution. All nests were in thick bark pieces of Larix decidua, which lay in grassy vegetation on sun-exposed ground of open subalpine forests dominated by larch. The nests contained 1–26 brood cells constructed within one to several burrows tunneled out by the female bees with their specialized mandibles, which are distinctly stronger than those of related O. (Melanosmia) species known to nest in preexisting cavities or loose soil. The linearly arranged brood cells were separated from each other by three-layered partitions consisting of an interlayer of densely packed small bark particles sandwiched between two thin layers of chewed green leaves (“leaf pulp”). DNA metabarcoding of several nest plugs revealed that Potentilla (Rosaceae) and Helianthemum (Cistaceae) served as source of the leaf pulp. Anthrax anthrax (Bombyliidae) and Sapyga similis (Sapygidae) parasitized the brood cells of O. nigriventris as shown by DNA barcoding of prepupae overwintering in the host’s nests. O. nigriventris is mesolectic and harvests pollen almost exclusively on Fabaceae (e.g. Lotus, Hippocrepis), Ericaceae (Rhododendron, Vaccinium) and Cistaceae (Helianthemum). Depending on the altitude, O. nigriventris emerges from the beginning of May to the first decade of June and thus qualifies as an early flying bee active in spring and early summer similar to the other European O. (Melanosmia) species. It likely needs two years for its development in the subalpine zone of the Alps and overwinters as prepupa in the first and probably as imago in the second winter. O. nigriventris has a Holarctic distribution, its disjunct Palaearctic range encompasses the boreal zone from Scandinavia eastwards to the Russian Far East, the Caucausus, the Alps as well as scattered locations at lower altitudes throughout Central Europe, where it is regarded as a glacial relict and has probably suffered strong declines during the last decades.

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          Most cited references 14

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          Substrates and Materials Used for Nesting by North American Osmia Bees (Hymenoptera: Apiformes: Megachilidae)

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            Herbivory mediated by coupling between biomechanical traits of plants and grasshoppers

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              A review of the non-metallic Osmia (Melanosmia) found in North America, with additional notes on palearctic Melanosmia (Hymenoptera, Megachilidae)

              Abstract We review the six species of non-metallic Osmia (Melanosmia) found in North America, including the description of two new species found in Canada and the northern United States: Osmia (Melanosmia) aquilonaria sp. n., and Osmia (Melanosmia) nearctica sp. n., respectively belonging to the inermis and xanthomelana species groups. We additionally provide keys to the non-metallic Melanosmia found in North America, and update keys to the palearctic Melanosmia based on study of the type specimens of Osmia disjuncta Tkalců, Osmia ephippiata Smith, Osmia ishikawai Hirashima, and Osmia pamirensis Gussakovskij.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Alpine Entomology
                AlpEnt
                Pensoft Publishers
                2535-0889
                May 20 2019
                May 20 2019
                : 3
                : 105-119
                Article
                10.3897/alpento.3.34409
                © 2019

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