Consequences of a warming climate for social organisation in sweat bees
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Springer Verlag (Germany)
© The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
The progression from solitary living to caste-based sociality is commonly regarded as a major evolutionary transition. However, it has recently been shown that in some taxa, sociality may be plastic and dependent on local conditions. If sociality can be environmentally driven, the question arises as to how projected climate change will influence features of social organisation that were previously thought to be of macroevolutionary proportions. Depending on the time available in spring during which a foundress can produce worker offspring, the sweat bee Halictus rubicundus is either social or solitary. We analysed detailed foraging data in relation to climate change predictions for Great Britain to assess when and where switches from a solitary to social lifestyle may be expected. We demonstrate that worker numbers should increase throughout Great Britain under predicted climate change scenarios, and importantly, that sociality should appear in northern areas where it has never before been observed. This dramatic shift in social organisation due to climate change should lead to a bigger workforce being available for summer pollination and may contribute towards mitigating the current pollinator crisis.
RS was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant PA00P3_139731), and CA was supported by a Nuffield Student Bursary. Fieldwork was funded by a NERC grant to J. Field and R. Paxton.
This is the final version of the article. Available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 70, pp. 1131 - 1139