The influence of nest site selection on the population dynamics of Africanized honey bees in an urban landscape
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© 2017 The Netherlands Entomological Society Urban landscapes provide habitat for many species, including domesticated and feral honey bees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae). With recent losses of managed honey bee colonies, there is increasing interest in feral honey bee colonies and their potential contribution to pollination services in agricultural, natural, and urban settings. However, in some regions the feral honey bee population consists primarily of Africanized honey bees. Africanized honey bees (AHB) are hybrids between European honey bees and the African honey bee, Apis mellifera scutellataLepeletier, and have generated economic, ecological, and human health concerns because of their aggressive behavior. In this study, we used two long-term datasets (7–10 years) detailing the spatial and temporal distribution of AHB colonies in Tucson, AZ, USA, where feral colonies occupy a variety of cavities including water meter boxes. A stage-structured matrix model was used to elucidate the implications of nest site selection and the effects of colony terminations on the structure and dynamics of the AHB population. Our results suggest that Tucson's AHB population is driven by a relatively small number of ‘source’ colonies that escape termination (ca. 0.165 colonies per km2 or 125 colonies in total), although immigrating swarms and absconding colonies from the surrounding area may have also contributed to the stability of the Tucson AHB population. Furthermore, the structure of the population has likely been impacted by the number and spatial distribution of water meter boxes across the city. The study provides an example of how urban wildlife populations are driven by interactions among landscape structure, human management, and behavioral traits conferred by an invasive genotype.
author list (cited authors)
Birt, A. G., Chen, S. V., Baum, K. A., Tchakerian, M. D., & Coulson, R. N.