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Ecological and genetics studies of Bombus dahlbomii (Hymenoptera, Apidae) populations, a threatened species after the introduction of exotic bee species


Pollinators play unquestionable ecological services important for native flora maintenance and also increasing crops productivity. During the last decades several reports have been warning for the pollinators decline all over the world. The genus Bombus, an important pollinator in temperate climate, has gained attention for the high extinction of species. Among those, here in South America, B. dahlbomii is the most critical example. Originally the species presented geographic distribution ranging from Central to South Chile and Argentina. The introduction of exotic species, as Bombus terrestris, together with its patogens, has shifted or even replaced B. dahlbomii from all most its original distribution. Thus we aim to perform a genetic and ecological studies aiming at test the following hypotheses: A. The recent population decline of B. dahlbomii after the introduction of the two exotic species is also followed by loss of genetic diversity; B. The recent isolation led to population structuring and gene flow is absent, and on contrary, historical populations were not structured. C. The interaction networks between B. dahlbomii and the flora that it visits have changed after the introduction of the two exotic species; D. The ecological distribution of B. dahlbomii in the Maule Region has changed due to the introduction of the exotic species. To test these hypotheses we will apply genetic and ecological approaches. Molecular markers (mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms and microsatellites) will be screened for the genetic evaluations; and modeling of interaction networks B. dalhbomii - Plant, analysis of pollen loads of B. dalhbomii and telemetry will be the approaches to gather ecological data. (AU)

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