Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Evolution of pollen transport in bees is influenced by pollen morphology

Presenter Information

Zach PortmanFollow

Class

Article

Department

Biology

Faculty Mentor

Terry Griswold

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Bees use pollen as the primary food source for their young and have evolved numerous adaptations to transport it to their nests. In most bees, the pollen is carried externally in either a dry or moistened state. Both moist and dry pollen transport are widespread in bees and occur in every habitat where bees are found. It is unknown why these two different transport strategies exist and what, if any, advantages or disadvantages each strategy has. In order to better understand the evolution of these different pollen transport strategies, I surveyed the bee families Andrenidae and Melittidae to find groups that have made the evolutionary transition from one pollen transport method to the other. I identified multiple groups that made the transition from moist to dry pollen transport, but none that have made the opposite transition from dry to moist pollen transport. The change from moist to dry pollen transport is associated with specialization on host plants with similar pollen morphologies. I discuss possible explanations for how pollen properties can influence its transport by bees and review the ecological and evolutionary implications.

Start Date

4-9-2015 2:00 PM

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Apr 9th, 2:00 PM

Evolution of pollen transport in bees is influenced by pollen morphology

Bees use pollen as the primary food source for their young and have evolved numerous adaptations to transport it to their nests. In most bees, the pollen is carried externally in either a dry or moistened state. Both moist and dry pollen transport are widespread in bees and occur in every habitat where bees are found. It is unknown why these two different transport strategies exist and what, if any, advantages or disadvantages each strategy has. In order to better understand the evolution of these different pollen transport strategies, I surveyed the bee families Andrenidae and Melittidae to find groups that have made the evolutionary transition from one pollen transport method to the other. I identified multiple groups that made the transition from moist to dry pollen transport, but none that have made the opposite transition from dry to moist pollen transport. The change from moist to dry pollen transport is associated with specialization on host plants with similar pollen morphologies. I discuss possible explanations for how pollen properties can influence its transport by bees and review the ecological and evolutionary implications.