Illuminating the relationship between environmental variation and the distribution of genetic diversity is an underlying goal of biodiversity studies. As part of my dissertation, I studied the population genetic diversity and structure of bumble bees distributed in the Pacific Northwest. My results found that genetic diversity and differentiation are largely determined by a species' distribution. Species limited to high elevation habitats exhibit significant pair-wise genetic differentiation across geographic distance, specifically the Forest Bumble Bee, Bombus sylvicola. Whereas, bumble bee populations that are broadly distributed across an elevation gradient like Yellow Head Bumble Bee, B. flavifrons, and the Black Tail Bumble Bee, B. melanopygus, do not exhibit significant pair-wise genetic differentiation. The results of this study are published in Conservation Genetics.
Read our paper here. Support for this research was provided in part by the North Coast and Cascades Science Learning Network and the Utah State University Ecology Center.