An integrative taxonomic approach confirms the valid status of Bombus glacialis, an endemic bumblebee species of the High Arctic

Abstract

The evolutionary biogeography of the Arctic Ocean islands is a relatively little-known topic. The Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, a severe mountain land of glaciers, rocks, Arctic deserts and tundra, is among the most enigmatic places in the world because it was a closed area for more than half a century. Here, we report the results of an integrative study of Bombus glacialis Friese, 1902, which has been described from the archipelago. We found that this island lineage has a high level of mtDNA COI gene divergence and a unique nucleotide substitution in the nDNA EF-1α gene but is a sister taxon of B. lapponicus and B. sylvicola. A redescription of the species using Friese’s syntype and newly collected topotypes from Novaya Zemlya is presented. Our results confirm the species status of B. glacialis from Novaya Zemlya, although its relationships with morphologically similar lineages inhabiting other High Arctic areas (Kolguev Island, Kanin Peninsula and Wrangel Island) should be determined in the future. Overall, new findings highlight that the Arctic Ocean archipelagos could preserve cold-tolerant Quaternary relict lineages of invertebrates, which currently may be on the brink of extinction due to climate warming.

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Fig. 1

Photo: Vitaly M. Spitsyn. (Color figure online)

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Photos: J. Kjærandsen and G. S. Potapov. (Color figure online)

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science (Project No. 6.2343.2017), the President of Russia Grant Council (Project No. MD-7660.2016.5), the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, RFBR (Project Nos. 16-34-60035 mol_a_dk and 16-05-00854) and Young Scientists of Pomorye 2017 (No. 04-2017-03a). The collection of the topotypes was performed during the ‘Floating University’ scientific expedition of the Northern (Arctic) Federal University. We are indebted to Dr. Prof. J. Kjærandsen and Dr. R. Bergersen (Norway) for providing us with the opportunity to the study collections of the Tromsø Museum. Additionally, we are grateful to the staff of the Natural History Museum (London), the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences (Saint Petersburg) and the Zoological Museum of Moscow University for the opportunity to examine their collections. Special thanks go to S.A. Rybalkin (Russia) for material from Chukotka. Special thanks go to Dr. Prof. J. Kjærandsen for photographs of the type specimen of B. glacialis. We are also thankful to Dr. E. Yu. Churakova (Russia) for identification of the plant species. Special thanks are due to Dr. M. Copley for improving the language of the paper. We are also grateful to three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on the earlier version of the manuscript.

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Potapov, G.S., Kondakov, A.V., Spitsyn, V.M. et al. An integrative taxonomic approach confirms the valid status of Bombus glacialis, an endemic bumblebee species of the High Arctic. Polar Biol 41, 629–642 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-017-2224-y

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Keywords

  • Bumblebees
  • Cryptic lineage
  • Island biogeography
  • High Arctic
  • Pleistocene glaciations