Microsatellite Analysis of Museum Specimens Reveals Historical Differences in Genetic Diversity between Declining and More Stable Bombus Species
Worldwide most pollinators, e.g. bumblebees, are undergoing global declines. Loss of genetic diversity can play an essential role in these observed declines. In this paper, we investigated the level of genetic diversity of seven declining Bombus species and four more stable species with the use of microsatellite loci. Hereto we genotyped a unique collection of museum specimens. Specimens were collected between 1918 and 1926, in 6 provinces of the Netherlands which allowed us to make interspecific comparisons of genetic diversity. For the stable species B. pascuorum, we also selected populations from two additional time periods: 19491955 and 19751990. The genetic diversity and population structure in B. pascuorum remained constant over the three time periods. However, populations of declining bumblebee species showed a significantly lower genetic diversity than co-occurring stable species before their major declines. This historical difference indicates that the repeatedly observed reduced genetic diversity in recent populations of declining bumblebee species is not caused solely by the decline itself. The historically low genetic diversity in the declined species may be due to the fact that these species were already rare, making them more vulnerable to the major drivers of bumblebee decline.