Now, who didn't wake up this morning and think: "I wonder what it would be like to be a bumble bee?". OK, maybe just me. Nonetheless, now you can find out! As part of our NSF mountain bees grant Broader Impacts, my collaborator Michael Dillon and folks at the U Wyoming Biodiversity Institute (thanks Brian Barber and Kyle Summerfield, especially!) devised "Flight of the Bombus" an especially creative interactive video game that illustrates some of the interesting aspects of insect flight, especially the challenges of flight at altitude. I wrote a small grant to the European Society for Evolutionary Biology and got some additional outreach funds to build a version of the game here. Pretty neat eh! We are not entirely sure where this will go long-term, but we intend to bring it out for various events, take it to local schools etc. A pretty creative endeavor! Go Team!
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!
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!
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?
The Lozier Lab is represented by Jason Jackson and Peter Scott at the Evolution 2016 meetings in Austin, TX.
Jason will be talking some about neutral and adaptative structure among geographic populations of one of our study species, Bombus bifarius, and Peter will be talking about assymmetrical hybrid zones in turtles.
A nice article about our NSF research by Chris Bryant (photos by Zach Riggins) at UA Press: “The Bees...I Just Quite Like Them”
A nice article in the Tuscaloosa News by Ed Enoch (with great photos by Karley Fernandez) "University of Alabama part of study on bumblebees' genetics, adaptability" features lab undergraduate researcher Gaybe Unbehaun!
It was pollinator week this past week, and on Saturday June 20 I set up a table at the Tuscaloosa Farmer’s Market to hand out informational material on pollinators, pesticides, and planting flowers, as well as some displays of local pollinator diversity. It was pretty successful as the first Tuscaloosa Pollinator Week, especially the interest from the young-uns. I’d consider it a success if even a handful of people learned that bumble bees were not, in fact, eating their decks.
Lozier Lab News
Dispatches from the lab and field!