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Our current project focuses on two widespread (across both geography and environment!) species, Bombus bifarius and Bombus vosnesenskii. These represent two of the more abundant bumble bee species out of the approximately 46 species in North America. We are collecting bees across our gradients, weighing, measuring, and pickling for genome sequencing. We'll have more on this in a later post.
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.
Our route took us through Laramie, WY, where postdoc Pimsler was working closely with collaborator Michael Dillon and grad student Kennan Oyen to establish experimental protocols for getting physiological and gene expression data from bumble bee colonies established in the lab with wild caught queens. The goal for this part of the project is to evaluate differences among regions in various responses to stress, and we'll have a post on this down the road.
We then headed up into WA, where we spent a week criss-crossing the Cascade Mountains looking to increase our representation of bees in the northern part of our sampling region along the Sierra and Cascade mountains. The goal of our project is to understand genetic, morphological, and physiological adaptation to spatial and environmental variation within and between species by collecting bees across both latitude and altitude gradients. Some of the things we are looking for are adaptation to temperature, which changes with both latitude and elevation, and adaptation to flight in thinner air, which changes only with altitude. It also means we get to collect at some very nice places!
Lozier Lab News
Dispatches from the lab and field!