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April 10, 2024

Range-wide genetic analysis of the endangered rusty patched bumble bee shows surprising levels of inbreeding within populations and genetic divergence between populations. Using a genetic mark-recapture technique, scientists also found lower site-level colony abundance than previously reported. 

a bumble bee drinks from a white flower
Pollinators are critical for food production and support many other species. Restoration projects that benefit pollinators benefit other wildlife and landscape health in general. Photo by Jay Watson (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources).


Over the last three decades, the rusty patched bumble bee has disappeared from almost 90% of its former range. In 2017, it was federally listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The genetic information generated through this study can inform managers in their conservation and restoration efforts of this endangered species.


Full citation: Mola, J.M., Pearse, I.S., Boone, M.L., Evans, E., Hepner, M.J., Jean, R.P., Kochanski, J.M., Nordmeyer, C., Runquist, E., Smith, T.A., Strange, J.P., Watson, J., Koch, J.B.U., 2024, Range-wide genetic analysis of an endangered bumble bee (Bombus affinis, Hymenoptera: Apidae) reveals population structure, isolation by distance, and low colony abundance, Journal of Insect Science, v. 24, i. 2,

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