INTRA- VERSUS INTER-COLONY COMPETITION IN BUMBLE BEE FORAGING SPECIFICITY Open Access

Tammany, Alison Joyce (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/b5644s123?locale=en
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Abstract

1. The level of generalization or specialization of bumble bees affects their foraging behaviors and therefore plant pollination. Optimal foraging theory (OFT) predicts that increased competition among various bee species results in more specialization.

2. Bumble bees of the same species compete differently when competing with their same colony (intra-colony competition), versus different colonies (inter-colony competition). OFT predicts that intra-colony competition results in increased generalization. In contrast to this theory, I predicted that inter-colony competition would increase specialization of foraging behavior.

3. I tested the difference between inter- and intra-colony competition using two colonies of Bombus impatiens by running foraging experiments at high and low densities. Bumble bees either foraged with their own respective colony, or foraged along with bees from a different colony. I analyzed the videos of the trials and recorded exact foraging patterns of individual bees. The level of specificity was measured using the Fisher's exact test and was measured for inter- and intra-colony competition.

4. I found that inter-colony competition resulted in an increase of specialization among bumble bees, as predicted by OFT. By contrast, bees in the same colony (intra-colony competition) displayed higher generalization in flower type.

5. Synthesis. My study reveals the difference in intra- versus inter-colony competition on foraging specificity in bumble bees, where in the past only differences among species has been examined. Higher inter-colony competition could increase specificity, for example in agricultural contexts.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Title: pg 1

Abstract: pg 1

Introduction: pg 1-4

Methods: pg 4-5

Results: pg 5-9

Discussion: pg 9-11

Acknowledgements: pg 11

References: pg 11-12

Appendix: pg 13-14

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