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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Bumblebee flight distances in relation to the forage landscape
Author(s): Osborne, Juliet L
Martin, Andrew P
Carreck, Norman L
Swain, Jennifer L
Knight, Mairi E
Goulson, Dave
Hale, Roddy J
Sanderson, Roy A
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Keywords: borage, foraging range, pollen analysis, mass marking experiment
Bumblebees Behavior
Bees Behavior
Insects Food
Issue Date: Mar-2008
Date Deposited: 4-Mar-2009
Citation: Osborne JL, Martin AP, Carreck NL, Swain JL, Knight ME, Goulson D, Hale RJ & Sanderson RA (2008) Bumblebee flight distances in relation to the forage landscape. Journal of Animal Ecology, 77 (2), pp. 406-415.
Abstract: 1. Foraging range is a key aspect of the ecology of “central place foragers”. Estimating how far bees fly under different circumstances is essential for predicting colony success, and for estimating bee-mediated gene flow between plant populations. It is likely to be strongly influenced by forage distribution, something that is hard to quantify in all but the simplest landscapes; and theories of foraging distance tend to assume a homogeneous forage distribution. 2. We quantified the distribution of bumblebee (Bombus terrestris L.) foragers away from experimentally positioned colonies, in an agricultural landscape, using two (mutually reinforcing) methods. We mass-marked foragers as they left the colony, and analysed pollen from foragers returning to the colonies. The data were set within the context of the “forage landscape”: a map of the spatial distribution of forage as determined from remote-sensed data. To our knowledge, this is the first time that empirical data on foraging distances and forage availability, at this resolution and scale, has been collected and combined for bumblebees. 3. The bees foraged at least 1.5 km from their colonies, and the proportion of foragers flying to one field declined, approximately linearly, with radial distance. In this landscape there was great variation in forage availability within 500 m of colonies but little variation beyond 1 km, regardless of colony location. 4. The scale of B.terrestris foraging was large enough to buffer against effects of forage patch and flowering crop heterogeneity, but bee species with shorter foraging range may experience highly variable colony success according to location.
DOI Link: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2007.01333.x
Rights: Published in Journal of Animal Ecology. Copyright: Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at Author Posting. © Juliet L. Osborne, Andrew P. Martin, Norman L. Carreck, Jennifer L. Swain, Mairi E. Knight, Dave Goulson, Roddy J. Hale and Roy A. Sanderson, 2008. The full text of this article is published in Journal of Animal Ecology, Volume 77, Issue 2, Pages 406-415. It is available online from Blackwell-Synergy at

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