Large-Range Movements of Neotropical Orchid Bees Observed via Radio Telemetry

M. Wikelski, J. Moxley, A. Eaton-Mordas, M.M. Lopez-Uribe, Richard Holland, D. Moskowitz, D.W. Roubik, R. Kays

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104 Citations (Scopus)


Neotropical orchid bees (Euglossini) are often cited as classic examples of trapline-foragers with potentially extensive foraging ranges. If long-distance movements are habitual, rare plants in widely scattered locations may benefit from euglossine pollination services. Here we report the first successful use of micro radio telemetry to track the movement of an insect pollinator in a complex and forested environment. Our results indicate that individual male orchid bees (Exaerete frontalis) habitually use large rainforest areas (at least 42-115 ha) on a daily basis. Aerial telemetry located individuals up to 5 km away from their core areas, and bees were often stationary, for variable periods, between flights to successive localities. These data suggest a higher degree of site fidelity than what may be expected in a free living male bee, and has implications for our understanding of biological activity patterns and the evolution of forest pollinators.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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