Pollinator health, physiology, and nutrition
combined effects of nutrition and pesticide exposure on bumble bee performance
Pollinators are response for producing one third of the food we eat. However, their populations are declining worldwide due to anthropogenic factors such as habitat loss, pesticide exposure, and pathogens. My work at the University of Nevada, Reno seeks to understand how multiple stressors brought on by global change affect bumble bee physiology, behavior, and population dynamics. We are currently investigating the combined effects of neonicotinoid pesticides and nectar secondary chemistry on worker immune functioning, feeding behavior, and survival in a laboratory setting. Preliminary results show that bees will experience a drop in immune functioning following an acute pesticide dose if they have previously consumed nectar with secondary compounds, but not if they have only consumed sugar. Future work will explore the interactive effects of diet and pesticide exposure in a field setting, using colonies reared from wild-caught queens.