Archive for Inbreeding
Sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news 7th September 2010
Recent research into the genetic make-up of smaller bee populations in the Hebrides Islands has given an insight into the potential threats posed to bee populations nationwide if their habitats are further fragmented. Due to the gradual reduction in their habitat the Moss Carder Bees of the Scottish Islands are so inbred that it poses a threat to their very continuation as a species. The lead researcher on the project, Penelope Whitehorn from Stirling University, said that although the effects of inbreeding had not yet directly affected the creatures immune systems it did make them more susceptible to parasitic infections. The rich habitat meant that the effects are not as pronounced as they would have been on the poorer UK mainland. Other consequences include the increased likelihood of infertile males.
One species of bee has already become extinct in the UK. The Short Haired Bumblebee died out in the 1980s due to decreased habitat and parasitic infections. So far attempts to reintroduce the bee to the UK from New Zealand (where the bees were introduced in the 19th century) have failed.