Conservation Genetics

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 507–520 | Cite as

Patterns of population genetic structure and diversity across bumble bee communities in the Pacific Northwest

  • Jonathan B. Koch
  • Chris Looney
  • Walter S. Sheppard
  • James P. Strange
Research Article


Patterns of genetic structure and diversity are largely mediated by a species’ ecological niche and sensitivity to climate variation. Some species with narrow ecological niches have been found to exhibit increased population differentiation, limited gene flow across populations, and reduced population genetic diversity. In this study, we examine patterns of population genetic structure and diversity of four bumble bee species that are broadly sympatric, but do not necessarily inhabit the same ecological niche in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Testing for the effect of isolation by geographic distance (IBD) with linearized Fst and Dest found that Bombus sylvicola and B. mixtus exhibited significant IBD across populations. In contrast, both B. melanopygus and B. flavifrons, two species that are distributed across a broad elevation gradient, exhibited no IBD, a result further corroborated by Bayesian a priori population assignment tests. Furthermore, we discovered that B. sylvicola populations distributed on the Olympic Peninsula have significantly less average allelic diversity than populations distributed in the Cascade Mountains. Our results suggest that populations distributed in the Olympic Mountains represent a distinct genetic cluster relative to the Cascade Mountains, with B. sylvicola and B. mixtus likely experiencing the greatest degree of population genetic differentiation relative to B. flavifrons and B. melanopygus. While bumble bees are known to co-exist across a diversity of habitats, our results demonstrate that underlying population genetic structure and diversity may not necessarily be similar across species, and are largely governed by their respective niches.


Bombus Pollinator Alpine Isolation by distance Olympic Mountains Cascade Mountains Pacific Northwest 

Supplementary material

10592_2017_944_MOESM1_ESM.docx (34 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 34 KB)
10592_2017_944_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (83 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 82 KB)
10592_2017_944_MOESM3_ESM.eps (28.8 mb)
Supplementary Fig. 1 Generalized distribution of A) B. sylvicola, B) B. mixtus, C) B. melanopygus, and D) B. flavifrons in the Pacific Northwest based habitat suitability models estimated in Williams et al. (2014). The hollow black box represents the geographic extent of our study area. (EPS 29519 KB)
10592_2017_944_MOESM4_ESM.eps (3.1 mb)
Supplementary Fig. 2 Pairwise differences of genetic differentiation across populations of four bumble bee species by geographic distance in the Pacific Northwest. To estimate genetic differentiation across populations we used the Jost’s D (Dest) estimator. A) B. sylvicola, B) B. mixtus, C) B. melanopygus, and D) B. flavifrons. (EPS 3198 KB)
10592_2017_944_MOESM5_ESM.eps (33.3 mb)
Supplementary Fig. 3 Population assignment barplots of A) B. sylvicola, B) B. mixtus, C) B. melanopygus, and D) B. flavifrons estimated with Structure v2.3.3 (Pritchard et al. 2000). Each bar represents fractional assignment of an individual to a cluster (K = 2 or K = 3), expressed in decreasing longitude (from left to right). The Evanno method informed the number of genetic clusters for each bumble bee species (Earl and vonHoldt 2012). (EPS 34102 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.USDA-ARS Pollinating Insects-Biology, Management, and Systematics ResearchLoganUSA
  3. 3.Washington State Department of AgricultureOlympiaUSA
  4. 4.Department of EntomologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biology and Tropical Conservation Biology & Environmental Science Graduate ProgramUniversity of Hawaii at HiloHiloUSA

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