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      Patterns of widespread decline in North American bumble bees.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

      Algorithms, Animals, Bees, microbiology, physiology, Genetic Variation, Genotype, Geography, Host-Parasite Interactions, Microsatellite Repeats, Microscopy, Phase-Contrast, Models, Genetic, Molecular Sequence Data, North America, Nosema, metabolism, Pollination, Population Dynamics

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          Abstract

          Bumble bees (Bombus) are vitally important pollinators of wild plants and agricultural crops worldwide. Fragmentary observations, however, have suggested population declines in several North American species. Despite rising concern over these observations in the United States, highlighted in a recent National Academy of Sciences report, a national assessment of the geographic scope and possible causal factors of bumble bee decline is lacking. Here, we report results of a 3-y interdisciplinary study of changing distributions, population genetic structure, and levels of pathogen infection in bumble bee populations across the United States. We compare current and historical distributions of eight species, compiling a database of >73,000 museum records for comparison with data from intensive nationwide surveys of >16,000 specimens. We show that the relative abundances of four species have declined by up to 96% and that their surveyed geographic ranges have contracted by 23-87%, some within the last 20 y. We also show that declining populations have significantly higher infection levels of the microsporidian pathogen Nosema bombi and lower genetic diversity compared with co-occurring populations of the stable (nondeclining) species. Higher pathogen prevalence and reduced genetic diversity are, thus, realistic predictors of these alarming patterns of decline in North America, although cause and effect remain uncertain.

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          Most cited references 29

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          Maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions

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            Estimating F-Statistics for the Analysis of Population Structure

             B Weir,  C. Cockerham (1984)
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              Global pollinator declines: trends, impacts and drivers.

              Pollinators are a key component of global biodiversity, providing vital ecosystem services to crops and wild plants. There is clear evidence of recent declines in both wild and domesticated pollinators, and parallel declines in the plants that rely upon them. Here we describe the nature and extent of reported declines, and review the potential drivers of pollinator loss, including habitat loss and fragmentation, agrochemicals, pathogens, alien species, climate change and the interactions between them. Pollinator declines can result in loss of pollination services which have important negative ecological and economic impacts that could significantly affect the maintenance of wild plant diversity, wider ecosystem stability, crop production, food security and human welfare. Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                21199943
                10.1073/pnas.1014743108
                3021065

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