Morphogenetic Alterations in Melipona quadrifasciata anthidioides (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Associated with Pesticides
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Bees are major pollinators of both native flora and cultured crops. Nonetheless, despite their key functional role in ecosystems and agriculture, bee populations have been affected worldwide by deforestation and contamination by insecticides. Conversely, little is known about the effects of pesticides on morphogenetic development of neotropical stingless bees. We compared the fluctuating asymmetry (FA) in newly emerged bees and foragers of Melipona quadrifasciata anthidioides exposed to pesticides (experimental greenhouse and cultivated field). In addition, visitation behavior of foragers was inferred from pollen analyses and direct observation. A significant increase of FA (P < 0.001) was detected in bees from the greenhouse. Even though pesticides might affect their development, foragers seem to avoid contaminated plants whenever possible, as confirmed by pollen and visitation analyses. Consequently, the conservation of natural forests in agricultural landscapes is essential to ensure the health of colonies in stingless bees.
The authors thank Programa de Formação de Recursos Humanos—Petrobras (PRH-PB 211) for the financial support, Mr. José Silva for allowing us to establish the meliponary in the cultivated area, and the beekeeper Mr. Eduardo Sepúlveda for the providing the bee samples in the control area.
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