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      Monitoring bee health in European agro-ecosystems using wing morphology and fat bodies

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      One Ecosystem

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Current global change substantially threatens pollinators, which directly impacts the pollination services underpinning the stability, structure and functioning of ecosystems. Amongst these threats, many synergistic drivers, such as habitat destruction and fragmentation, increasing use of agrochemicals, decreasing resource diversity, as well as climate change, are known to affect wild and managed bees. Therefore, reliable indicators for pollinator sensitivity to such threats are needed. Biological traits, such as phenotype (e.g. shape, size and asymmetry) and storage reserves (e.g. fat body size), are important pollinator traits linked to reproductive success, immunity, resilience and foraging efficiency and, therefore, could serve as valuable markers of bee health and pollination service potential.This data paper contains an extensive dataset of wing morphology and fat body content for the European honeybee (Apis mellifera) and the buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) sampled at 128 sites across eight European countries in landscape gradients dominated by two major bee-pollinated crops (apple and oilseed rape), before and after focal crop bloom and potential pesticide exposure. The dataset also includes environmental metrics of each sampling site, namely landscape structure and pesticide use. The data offer the opportunity to test whether variation in the phenotype and fat bodies of bees is structured by environmental factors and drivers of global change. Overall, the dataset provides valuable information to identify which environmental threats predominantly contribute to the modification of these traits.

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          Bee foraging ranges and their relationship to body size.

          Bees are the most important pollinator taxon; therefore, understanding the scale at which they forage has important ecological implications and conservation applications. The foraging ranges for most bee species are unknown. Foraging distance information is critical for understanding the scale at which bee populations respond to the landscape, assessing the role of bee pollinators in affecting plant population structure, planning conservation strategies for plants, and designing bee habitat refugia that maintain pollination function for wild and crop plants. We used data from 96 records of 62 bee species to determine whether body size predicts foraging distance. We regressed maximum and typical foraging distances on body size and found highly significant and explanatory nonlinear relationships. We used a second data set to: (1) compare observed reports of foraging distance to the distances predicted by our regression equations and (2) assess the biases inherent to the different techniques that have been used to assess foraging distance. The equations we present can be used to predict foraging distances for many bee species, based on a simple measurement of body size.
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            Fluctuating Asymmetry: Measurement, Analysis, Patterns

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              Diet effects on honeybee immunocompetence.

              The maintenance of the immune system can be costly, and a lack of dietary protein can increase the susceptibility of organisms to disease. However, few studies have investigated the relationship between protein nutrition and immunity in insects. Here, we tested in honeybees (Apis mellifera) whether dietary protein quantity (monofloral pollen) and diet diversity (polyfloral pollen) can shape baseline immunocompetence (IC) by measuring parameters of individual immunity (haemocyte concentration, fat body content and phenoloxidase activity) and glucose oxidase (GOX) activity, which enables bees to sterilize colony and brood food, as a parameter of social immunity. Protein feeding modified both individual and social IC but increases in dietary protein quantity did not enhance IC. However, diet diversity increased IC levels. In particular, polyfloral diets induced higher GOX activity compared with monofloral diets, including protein-richer diets. These results suggest a link between protein nutrition and immunity in honeybees and underscore the critical role of resource availability on pollinator health.
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                Author and article information

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                Journal
                One Ecosystem
                OE
                Pensoft Publishers
                2367-8194
                May 17 2021
                May 17 2021
                : 6
                Article
                10.3897/oneeco.6.e63653
                © 2021

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