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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research » Research » Research Project #437243

Research Project: Recovery outline for the rusty patched bumble bee, 2018

Location: Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research

Project Number: 2080-21000-019-23-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: May 1, 2019
End Date: Mar 1, 2024

The goal of the project is to reduce threats and prepare for population enhancements by conducting non-lethal pathogen, genetic, and demographic assessments at extant populations and apply that information to develop genetically sound captive rearing and reintroduction programs for rusty patched bumble bee (RPBB). The results of these scientific studies will help identify the best practices to manage and enhance RPBB habitat and stressors across it’s range. The scientific analyses from this study will inform recovery and other ESA decisions for this species. The objectives are as follows: Objective 1 – Determine the pathogens that are affecting current populations of RPBB by conducting non-lethal sampling for pathogens at three extant populations to determine the community of parasites affecting current populations and to anticipate pathogens likely to be problematic in captive reared colonies. Objective 2 – Understand the genetic diversity and structure of current populations by conducting non-lethal sampling for effective population size at 3-5 extant RPBB colonies. These data will be used to help manage captive reared populations and inform future reintroductions, augmentations, and other recovery goals. Objective 3 – Determine appropriate captive rearing, research, augmentation, and/or reintroduction programs and design these programs through an expert led workshop to guide the Service and our recovery partners through the steps outlined in the IUCN Species Survival Commission Guidelines on the Use of Ex situ Management for Species Conservation. This workshop will also help identify the key research questions that could be answered with a captive population(s) that can inform other recovery actions (e.g., foraging needs for habitat improvements). Objective 4 – Determine RPBB nesting habitat needs to inform captive programs, habitat management, and future reintroductions. Study nesting habitat at 3 extant RPBB locations. Objective 5 – Develop and disseminate outreach products targeting non-native bee users to reduce the spread of pathogens, based on Tripodi et al. (in prep) and this study, to a minimum of 5 target groups (e.g., commercial greenhouses).

Obj. 1. We will test the efficacy of using net trapping and vial agitation to induce bees to defecate and test the potential for using bee faeces for microscopic and PCR detection of pathogens such as Nosema, Crithidia and Apicystis in bumble bees. All specimens will be stored frozen and shipped to USDA-ARS-PIBMSRU where they will be tested for bee pathogens. Samples will be first observed under 400x magnification for the presence of pathogens and then the samples will be extracted using a high yielding DNA extraction technique. PCR based detection of pathogens will use primers developed at PIRU. Obj. 2. We will survey 3-5 sites that have extant RPBB populations and net-collect up to 24 RPBB per site. Captured bees will be chilled on ice and a partial leg fragment (tarsi and tibia) will be removed, labeled, and transported to the USDA-ARS-PIBMSRU for processing. DNA will be extracted from the tissue sample and stored at -20°C. Fifteen microsatellite loci will be amplified in two multiplex PCR reactions and amplification of cytochrome oxidase I (COI) mitochondrial gene. Standard population genetic approaches will be followed to assess the genetic diversity and structure of B. affinis populations. Obj. 3. Complete a workshop to guide recovery partners through the steps outlined in the IUCN Species Survival Commission Guidelines on the Use of Ex situ Management for Species Conservation. This will include pre-planning and preparation for the workshop; conducting the approximately 3.5 day workshop; and, completion of a report, based on the workshop and the IUCN guidelines, that would help guide the design of captive rearing and and research programs for the RPBB. Obj. 4. Methods: At three locations where we have established the presence of RPBB in southern Wisconsin, we will employ a combination of strategies in order to track bees from foraging sites back to their nests. This will include capturing foraging individuals and marking them with a temporary, non-toxic fluorescent dye. Using black lights at night, we will scan for dye traces left in the field by workers returning to their nests. Obj. 5. Outreach material will be developed in collaboration with University of MN, based on recommendations from Obj. 1 and 2 and other peer reviewed articles. During this time, we will collate a list of commercial facilities to distribute materials, focusing on facilities near extant RPBB populations where the benefit of reducing pathogens will be the greatest