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Body size and wing asymmetry in bees along an urbanization gradient

Banaszak-Cibicka, Weronika, Fliszkiewicz, Monika, Langowska, Aleksandra, Żmihorski, Michał
Apidologie 2018 v.49 no.3 pp. 297-306
Anthophora plumipes, asymmetry, body size, cities, food shortages, habitats, landscapes, pollution, solitary bees, urban areas, urbanization, wildlife management, wings, Poland
The global loss of bee diversity and abundance is a central issue in conservation biology. There is increasing evidence that cities may play an important role in bee conservation, although urbanization may also have negative impacts. Here, we investigate individual body size variation and wing asymmetry (based on 11 traits) in the solitary bee Anthophora plumipes along a rural-urban gradient in Poland. The body size of captured individuals did not show any changes along the gradient. Directional asymmetry was present, since differences between sides in 10 out of 11 traits deviated significantly from zero, with the right-side wing traits being generally larger. In contrast to our expectations, the forewing was more asymmetric in rural than in suburban and urban areas. Similarly, the absolute asymmetry of 11 wing traits (i.e. pooling differences but ignoring direction) was also significantly greater in rural than in suburban and urban landscapes. Since asymmetry may be attributed to environmental pollution and food shortages, we conclude that the urban landscape provides bees with habitats of higher quality and thus should be considered as an important habitat for bee conservation.