Climate, not hosts, affects distribution of nest-stealing bees

In this study, researchers evaluated the inclusion of a host bee species, Eulema nigrita, in modelling of distributions of the orchid bee Aglae caerulea.

Data resources used via GBIF : 4,000 species occurrences (estimate)
Aglae caerulea

Aglae caerulea by The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London via Europeana. Photo licensed under CC BY 4.0 (slightly cropped from original)

Orchid bees are colourful pollinators found exclusively in the Neotropics. Some species are cleptoparasites that hijack nests from host species. In this case, researchers evaluated the inclusion of a host bee species, Eulema nigrita, in modelling of distributions of the orchid bee Aglae caerulea. Using GBIF-mediated occurrences, researchers created distribution models for the parasite, combining them with historical climate data and the presence of E. nigrita. Surprisingly, the results showed that the host-parasite interaction complex did not improve the models. Instead, the ranges of A. caerulea appear mainly constrained by climatic factors, not the presence of the host.

Citations

Silva DP, Varela S, Nemésio A and De Marco P (2015) Adding Biotic Interactions into Paleodistribution Models: A Host-Cleptoparasite Complex of Neotropical Orchid Bees. PLOS ONE. Public Library of Science (PLoS), e0129890. Available at doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129890.

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