Two-year bee, or not two-year bee? How voltinism is affected by temperature and season length in a high-elevation solitary bee

Jessica R.K. Forrest*, Regan Cross, Paul James Caradonna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Organisms must often make developmental decisions without complete information about future conditions. This uncertainty— for example, about the duration of conditions favorable for growth— can favor bet-hedging strategies. Here, we investigated the causes of life cycle variation in Osmia iridis, a bee exhibiting a possible bet-hedging strategy with co-occurring 1-and 2-year life cycles. One-year bees reach adulthood quickly but die if they fail to complete pupation before winter; 2-year bees adopt a low-risk, low-reward strategy of postponing pupation until the second summer. We reared larval bees in incubators in various experimental conditions and found that warmer—but not longer—summers and early birthdates increased the frequency of 1-year life cycles. Using in situ temperature measurements and developmental trajectories of laboratory-and field-reared bees, we estimated degree-days required to reach adulthood in a single year. Local long-term (1950–2015) climate records reveal that this heat requirement is met in only ∼7% of summers, suggesting that the observed distribution of life cycles is adaptive. Warming summers will likely decrease average generation times in these populations. Nevertheless, survival of bees attempting 1-year life cycles—particularly those developing from late-laid eggs—will be <100%; consequently, we expect the life cycle polymorphism to persist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-574
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Volume193
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

Keywords

  • Adaptive plasticity
  • Bet hedging
  • Cohort splitting
  • Megachilidae
  • Thermal time
  • Voltinism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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