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Bumblebees: Behaviour, Ecology, and Conservationby Dave Goulson
Synopses & Reviews
Bumblebees have always been favored subjects for scientific study, but research has accelerated in recent years. Many new discoveries have been made with regard to their ecology and social behavior. The last twenty years has seen the commercialization of bumblebee breeding or pollination, and the invasion of new parts of the globe by bumblebee species, with potentially far-reaching consequences. Despite this, there is a great deal that we do not know about bumblebees. Their nests are hard to locate, so that those of some species have never been found. Fundamental aspects of the behavior of many species, such as mating, have never been seen. Bumblebees are undergoing a widespread decline, but this has not yet caught the attention of the general public to the same extent as, for example, the plight of rare butterflies or birds. But bumblebees are probably of far greater ecological and economic importance than these groups because the pollination of crops and the survival of many wildflowers depend upon them. This book attempts to draw attention to the importance of conserving dwindling bumblebee populations. It synthesizes the current state of knowledge of the behavior and ecology of these fascinating and charismatic organisms, and identifies some of the many gaps that remain in hope of stimulating further research.
Bumblebees are familiar and charismatic insects, occurring throughout much of the world. They are increasingly being used as a model organism for studying a wide range of ecological and behavioural concepts, such as social organization, optimal foraging theories, host-parasite interactions, and pollination. Recently they have become a focus for conservationists due to mounting evidence of range contractions and catastrophic extinctions with some species disappearing from entire continents (e.g. in North America). Only by improving our understanding of their ecology can we devise sensible plans to conserve them. The role of bumblebees as invasive species (e.g. Bombus terrestris in Japan) has also become topical with the growing trade in commercial bumblebee nests for tomato pollination leading to establishment of non-native bumblebees in a number of countries.
Since the publication of the first edition of the book, there have been hundreds of research papers published on bumblebees. There is clearly a continuing need for an affordable, well-illustrated, and appealing text that makes accessible all of the major advances in understanding of the behaviour and ecology of bumblebees that have been made in the last 30 years.
About the Author
Prof Dave Goulson has had a lifelong interest in insects, having started collecting butterflies as a small boy. After a degree in Biology at Oxford University and a PhD at Oxford Brookes University, he obtained a lectureship at the University of Southampton in 1995, where he stayed for 11 years. He is now Professor of Biological Sciences and Head of the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Stirling. In 2006 he founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a membership-based charity devoted to the active promotion of bee conservation in the UK; the trust now has 3,000 members.
Table of Contents
3. Social Organisation and Conflict
4. Finding a Mate
5. Natural Enemies
6. Foraging Economics
7. Exploitation of Patchy Resources
8. Choice of Flower Species
9. Intraspecific Floral Choices
10. Foraging Cues Gained from Other Bees
11. Competition and Niche Differentiation in Bumblebee Communities
12. Bumblebees as Pollinators
14. Bumblebees Abroad; Effects of Introduced Bees
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