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The allometry of proboscis length in Melittidae (Hymenoptera: Apoidae) and an estimate of their foraging distance using museum collections

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Author(s)

  • Annalie Melin
  • Harald W. Krenn
  • Raurie C.K. Bowie
  • Colin Michael Beale
  • John C. Manning
  • Jonathan F. Colville

Department/unit(s)

Publication details

JournalPLoS ONE
DateAccepted/In press - 21 May 2019
DatePublished (current) - 7 Jun 2019
Number of pages18
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

An appreciation of body size allometry is central for understanding insect pollination ecology. A recent model utilises allometric coefficients for five of the seven extant bee families (Apoidea: Anthophila) to include crucial but difficult-to-measure traits, such as proboscis length, in ecological and evolutionary studies. Melittidae were not included although they are important pollinators in South Africa where they comprise an especially rich and morphologically diverse fauna. We measured intertegular distance (correlated with body size) and proboscis length of 179 specimens of 11 species from three genera of Melittidae. With the inclusion of Melittidae, we tested the between family differences in the allometric scaling coefficients. AIC model selection was used to establish which factors provide the best estimate of proboscis length. We explored a hypothesis that has been proposed in the literature, but which has not been tested, whereby body and range sizes of bees are correlated with rainfall regions. We tested this by using body size measurements of 2109 museum specimens from 56 species of Melittidae and applied the model coefficients to estimate proboscis length and foraging distance. Our results show that with the addition of Melittidae, we retained the overall pattern of significant differences in the scaling coefficient among Apoidea, with our model explaining 98% of the variance in species-level means for proboscis length. When testing the relationship between body size and rainfall region we found no relationship for South African Melittidae. Overall, this study has added allometric scaling coefficients for an important bee family and shown the applicability of using these coefficients when linked with museum specimens to test ecological hypothesis

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©2019 Melin et al.

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