About this Research Topic
Honey bees have a critical impact on global food security as pollinators in agricultural systems worldwide. They are also considered one of the most successful invasive organisms, having been transported by humans to all continents with the exception of the Arctic and Antarctic. However, along with other insects, they are increasingly under threat from anthropogenic activities.
The adaptation of Africanized honey bees to the island of Puerto Rico provides insight into the changes that can occur to invasive organisms and the invaded ecosystem during colonization. One advantage of studying island populations is that adaptive processes on islands are accelerated and may show similarities across species. Some examples of island-unique adaptation include the breakdown of the usually observed mutualism between Cecropia trees and Azteca ants seen in many Caribbean islands, as well as the reduced aggression of Solenopsis geminata in Puerto Rico. Thus, data from island populations can be particularly useful to develop and test models of invasion biology.
This collection has been inspired by the conference “Puerto Rico Honey Bees and Evolution of Invasive Organisms on Islands”, which focused on the Puerto Rican Gentle Africanized honey bee and other non-native organisms through the lens of invasion biology and island biogeography. This Research Topic will highlight the study of island invasion biology from the perspective of different disciplines and approaches, including genomics, morphology, behavior, ecology and computer science. Example areas of research will include:
1) The analysis of genetic population structure of honey bees in Puerto Rico and Turkey;
2) Different aspects of honey bee life history, such as how drone congregation areas can affect the dissemination of diseases in domestic and wild hives;
3) Processes to select Varroa-tolerant honey bee lines;
4) Testing the impact of domestic honey bees on native pollinators on Puerto Rico;
5) How invasive species respond to the unique evolutionary pressures and lower resource availability of island systems;
6) The diversity of pollinators associated with the pollination and fruit yields of fruit-bearing trees before and after hurricane events;
7) The need for pollinator management strategies to protect pollinators on climate-vulnerable island systems as well as on a larger scale (i.e. the state of California, US);
8) Computer methods and programs that can assist in the collection of pollinator monitoring data and integrate environmental, ecological, behavioral, and genomic data in a readily accessible format for both scientific inquiry and the general public.
Keywords: honey bee, invasive species, island adaptation, anthropogenic effects, pollinator
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