Undergraduate researcher Clare Ols and I have been surveying the University of Alabama Arboretum using bee bowl pan traps for the past 8 months. We have uncovered a remarkable amount of native bee diversity in such a small area. We're currently going through and trying to ID everything, but we're estimating at least 60 species collected thus far.
As the semester starts winding down, we've been having a busy week in the lab.
1) Riley successfully defended her M.S. Thesis!
Congrats Riley! Riley did a great job on her defense talk and committee grilling session to finish up her Master's work on "The Influence of Space, Sex, and Temperature on Morphology of the Kudzu Bug, Megacopta cribraria (Hemiptera:Plataspidae), a Rapidly Expanding Invasive Species". Riley will be continuing on to get a PhD with Jennifer Howeth in the department.
2) Jason got a teaching award
Jason received a teaching excellence award this week at the UA Honor's Week Graduate Honors Convocation for his teaching work in the Biological Sciences! Congratulations to Jason as well!
3) Meaghan, Jason, and I published a new paper on bumble bee color pattern evolution
Meaghan got her first first-authored post doc paper out, and some more of Jason's PhD work contributed to a follow-up paper on Bombus bifarius color pattern population genomics. We use RNAseq (and some RADseq) SNPs to detect signs of selection and identify a possible player in color pattern polymorphism for one of the B. bifarius lineages B. bifarius nearcticus.
Pimsler et al. 2017. Population genomics reveals a candidate gene involved in bumble bee pigmentation. Ecology & Evolution doi:10.1002/ece3.2935
4) I will get to call myself an Associate Professor!
Nature just published my short article reviewing a recent paper by Carvell et al. (2017) that evaluated how habitat quality impacted bumble bee colony survival across the generations. Check it out here!
Lozier, J. Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature21897 (2017).
Carvell, C. et al. Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature21709 (2017).
The lab threw me a surprise b-day party yesterday at lab meeting, and made me a cake. A bumble-log! All made with bee themed ingredients like almonds, honey, and bee pollinated berries. They also made me a cool personalized calendar with pictures of our field sites! Very nice! Thanks guys!
Lee Roop wrote up a very nice article about our bumble bee research on AL.com. The article also does a nice job of highlighting all the great opportunities for research here at UA. I believe he is planning on doing similar stories about other Alabama scientists as a regular article series, so keep an eye out!
Peter Scott, our recently-graduated grad-student and current postdoc in the Shaffer lab at UCLA, recently dropped me a line to tell me his recent paper in Mesoamerican Herpetology (paper here) was the 100th citation to our Journal of Biogeography paper (co-authored by the illustrious Mike Hickerson) on Sasquatch niche modeling (link). Happy 100 Sasquatch, and thanks Peter!
Clare and Rebecca have finally finished processing and pinning up all of the bees collected in two bee bowl surveys at the UA Arboretum from last October and November! It looks like we've got a bunch of different species but things were dominated by what I'm guessing from some cursory identification work is the Halictid Agapostemon virescens (my non-bumble bee ID skills are not great, but I'm working on it!), a very pretty metallic green bee. We plan to do another set of monthly surveys this spring to see how diversity changes over the year.
Zach Gompert (Utah State) visited UA for the Biological Sciences departmental seminar series last Friday. He gave an excellent, chock-full-o-facts seminar on revealing the genomic consequences of hybridization among species, focusing on his research in Lycaeides butterflies (e.g., this paper). The Lozierlab was excited to spend some time with one of the more productive population geneticists out there, and I think we were all motivated by the visit!
A bit late, but the Lozier lab made a good showing at the fall graduate student poster colloquium at the UA Museum of Natural History at Smith Hall. Left to right: Meaghan, Riley, Jeff, Jason! The hippo is not in the lab. Also not shown is Peter, who is taking the picture, but he did not have a poster because he graduated!
The Lozier and Dillon Labs and our research into local adaptation across montane landscapes will be well represented at the upcoming Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting in New Orleans this January!
Just this week seven species of a unique bee group was declared endangered by US Fish & Wildlife. These are the first bees to be declared endangered in the US, and are from the genus Hylaeus and they live in Hawaii. Some of these little yellow-faced bees have undergone serious declines and are now restricted to one or a few spots from their historical distributions.
In other news, the bumble bee Bombus affinis (see the nice video a few posts down) has now been proposed for listing as an endangered species. My work with Sydney Cameron and others and an earlier study by Colla and Packer (2008) provided some of the data that documented the widespread decline of this species from once common to now rare. It was kind of fun seeing statistics that I calculated showing up in news reports!
If you are interested in bee conservation and the status of native bee conservation efforts, the Xerxes Society is a good group to follow: see their blog here.
We are getting ready to undertake a local bee biodiversity inventory at the University of Alabama Arboretum, a beautiful spot off of campus that is undergoing continual improvement thanks to director Monica Watkins. As part of this improvement, we hope to get a baseline assessment of bee biodiversity across the Arboretum, which includes pine and oak/hickory forest, a community garden, wildflower garden, and open areas with lots of general floral and habitat resources that should be great for bees. Ideally, bee habitat availability will increase at the Arboretum over time, and we would like to see how diversity tracks improvements.
The following is a writeup by Kennan Oyen, a UWY grad student working with collaborator Michael Dillon and describes some of our integrative aspects of the NSF Mountain Bees project.
I’m Kennan Oyen, A Ph.D. student in Dr. Michael Dillon’s lab. The Dillon Lab has been busy this summer! Our collaborator Jamie Strange from Utah State and USDA, along with his students, collected wild bumble bee queens (Bombus vosnesenskii) this spring and nested them in the lab. In May, we received our first batch of hives reared from wild queens collected in Southern California. With a team of undergraduates and a high school student I have been studying how these bees cope with extreme temperatures.
We recently wrapped up our first forray into the field for the 2016 season, travelling out west from Alabama to Washington, Oregon, and California. For those interested in what it takes to do bumble bee field work, this picture more or less sums things up. Nets, vials, coolers for storing ice and dry ice to preserve specimens, cooking gear, tents, sleeping bags, and you should be good to go! All this gear does make flying tricky, and since we need a vehicle when we get out west anyway, we usually just drive. Jason and I have driven back and forth across the country together about 4 times now.
A new video on the decline of the bee Bombus affinis, and bumble bees more generally. This video features some of the work from my postdoc, including interviews with my old PI Sydney Cameron, among a number of other great bee biologists. Please take a look, and check out the website of the video's maker. www.rustypatched.com/the-film/
FYI, my personal view is that we can find affinis around in geographically widespread pockets (I even know a few where we've found some over several years!), suggesting that imminant extinction may be less likely, however overall the range is shrinking and the species is certainly doing among the most poorly of any species we've investigated. A canary in the coal mine?
Lozier Lab News
Dispatches from the lab and field!