Globally there is concern over the decline of bees, an ecologically important group of pollinating insects. Genetic studies provide insights into population structure that are crucial for conservation management but that would be impossible to obtain by conventional ecological methods. Yet conservation genetic studies of bees have primarily focussed on social species rather than the more species-rich solitary bees. Here we investigate the population structure of Colletes floralis, a rare and threatened solitary mining bee, in Ireland and Scotland using nine microsatellite loci. Genetic diversity was surprisingly as high in Scottish (Hebridean island) populations at the extreme northwestern edge of the species range as in mainland Irish populations further south. Extremely high genetic differentiation among populations was detected; multilocus FST was up to 0.53, and G’ST and Dest were even higher (maximum: 0.85 and 1.00 respectively). A pattern of isolation by distance was evident for sites separated by land. Water appears to act as a substantial barrier to gene flow yet sites separated by sea did not exhibit isolation by distance. Colletes floralis populations are extremely isolated and probably not in regional migration-drift equilibrium. GIS-based landscape genetic analysis reveals urban areas as a potential and substantial barrier to gene flow. Our results highlight the need for urgent site-specific management action to halt the decline of this and potentially other rare solitary bees.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics