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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Insect Genetics and Biochemistry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #347472

Title: Using microcontrollers to study emergence rhythms of the alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata

item BENNETT, MEGHAN - North Dakota State University
item Rinehart, Joseph - Joe
item Yocum, George
item GREENLEE, KENDRA - North Dakota State University

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/14/2017
Publication Date: 11/5/2017
Citation: Bennett, M.M., Rinehart, J.P., Yocum, G.D., Greenlee, K.J. 2017. Using microcontrollers to study emergence rhythms of the alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata [abstract]. Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting. Denver, CO. November 5-8, 2017. Talk 1020.

Interpretive Summary: .

Technical Abstract: An important aspect of pollination is phenological overlap of natural events, such as peak flower bloom coinciding with pollinator emergence. Pollinator emergence can be impacted by environmental cues that inform their internal clocks. The alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata is a solitary, cavity-nesting bee that emerges in the spring after overwintering. Little is known about the cues that emerging bees use to synchronize emergence in the spring. This is partly due to limitations of sample size in the wild. We made measuring emergence rhythms possible by building and programing microcontrollers to sense and record the emergence of 1000 bees in an experiment. We have evidence that suggests multiple environmental variables affect biological rhythms of M. rotundata. We found that the ramp phase of a thermoperiod entrains adult emergence, and they can respond quickly to a change in environment. Furthermore, emergence rhythms “free run” in constant temperature conditions, suggesting that thermoperiods interact with circadian feedback loops. Furthermore, photoperiods entrained bees, despite their cavity nesting life history. Interestingly, if exposed to both a thermoperiod and photoperiod at different parts of the day, emerging bees entrain to the thermoperiod. This knowledge is crucial for understanding the effects of a changing climate on internal clocks mediating emergence rhythms of pollinators.