Land-use stress alters cuticular chemical surface profile and morphology in the bumble bee Bombus lapidarius
Pollinators and other insects are currently undergoing a massive decline. Several stressors are thought to be of importance in this decline, with those having close relationships to agricultural management and practice seemingly playing key roles. In the present study, we sampled Bombus lapidarius L. workers in grasslands differing in their management intensity and management regime across three different regions along a north-south gradient in Germany. We analyzed the bees with regard to (1) their cuticular hydrocarbon profile (because of its important role in communication in social insects) and amount of scent by using gas chromatography and (2) the size of each individual by using wing distances as a proxy for body size. Our analysis revealed changes related to land-use intensity and temperature in the cuticular scent profile of bumble bees. Decreasing body size and increasing total scent amount were explained by an interaction of land-use intensity and study region, but not by land-use intensity alone. Thus, land-use intensity and temperature influence intracolonial communication and size, both of which can have strong effects on foraging. Land management and climate are therefore probably detrimental for colony maintenance and the reproductive success of bumble bees.