Izzo, who finished her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology last year at the University of Michigan, where she worked with Elizabeth Tibbetts on wasp communication and sexual selection, will speak on "Spotting the Top Male: Sexual Selection in a Lekking Paper Wasp." (Lekking means to engage in courtship displays.)
The seminar is sponsored by the Animal Behavior Graduate Group, which is hosting a series of winter-quarter seminars every Friday at noon in 6 Olson Hall. The series began Jan. 13 and will continue through March 16.
“Sexual selection has seen many advances over the past several decades, yet many questions remain,” said Izzo in her abstract. "Polistes dominulus paper wasps are a good system in which to study sexual selection, as males have a lek-based mating system and sexually dimorphic abdominal spots.
“Here, I demonstrate that these spots are used in both inter- and intra-sexual selection. Males with smaller, elliptically-shaped spots are more dominant over male rivals and are more preferred by females than males with larger, irregularly shaped spots. Additionally, the spots are condition-dependent and advertise quality.
“Further, spots function as signals: males with experimentally reduced abdominal spots win a greater proportion of fights and are preferred by females as mates over control males. Finally, female choice for attractive spots results in direct benefits to females. Females mated to males advertising high quality survive hibernation longer than females mated to males that advertise low quality. These results demonstrate that male ornaments are an important mediator of mating dynamics in paper wasps, and that females can gain direct benefits in non-economic mating systems. ”
Last summer we spotted her subject--Polistes dominulus--on a leaf in our backyard.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, confirmed the identification. "Note the clean black and yellow coloration and the two circular spots on the second abdominal segment," she said.
(Michigan State University has some interesting information posted on this wasp. It's an Old World Species with a native range from Europe to China. It was first discovered in the United States--Cambridge, Massachusetts--in 1981.)
About Mandy Izzo: she initially accepted a postdoctoral researcher position in the UC Davis Department of Entomology involving honey bees but is now affiliated with the UC Davis Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology and hopes to work on animal coloration projects.
She holds a master’s degree in biology from California State University, Northridge (2005) and a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology from UC Berkeley (2001).
Pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology at UC Davis, will be one of the featured speakers at the International Symposium on Pollinator Conservation, to be held Jan. 27-29 in Fukuoka, Japan.
His talk will explore agricultural landscape change and the role of bee life history in predicting and understanding responses of bee communities. The conference, sponsored by the Japan Society of the Promotion of Science and themed "Conservation and Sustainable Use of Pollinators: Towards Global Assessments," will take place on the Hakozaki campus, Kyushu University.
Williams is the only invited speaker from California. (See his lab research)
“Bees provide a critical ecosystem service for humanity through their pollination of crops worldwide,” said Williams, who will speak on “Bee Life History and Resource Distributions Determine Population and Community Responses to Agricultural Landscape Change.”
“There is increasing recognition of the contributions of wild species to crop pollination and their role in sustainable pollination into the future. The persistence of wild bee species depends on the availability of essential nesting sites and forage resources within the landscape. Agriculture management can profoundly change the abundance and distribution of these resources over time and space."
“Because bee species differ in specific nesting and forage requirements, there is the potential for land transformation to filter wild bee communities based on such ecological traits,” Williams said. “I will present two separate studies from central California exploring the role nesting and forage resources in determining bee responses to agricultural intensification. The first study explores the effects of bee life history traits and resource distributions on observed changes in bee communities between semi-natural and farmland components of an agricultural landscape.
“I will use a combination of empirical data sampled over multiple landscapes and spatial modeling of bee communities to reveal the relative importance of forage and nesting resources to bee responses. The second study focuses on the bumble bee Bombus vosnesenskii. I will use empirical data on bumble bee colony performance and a spatially-explicit model of floral abundance to quantify the importance the forage-resource landscape in determining worker and queen production.”
Williams pointed out that “the abundance of forage strongly affected worker production; however, it was most sensitive to early season resources. Spatio-temporal variation in the resource landscape across the season reduced the overall effect of the forage landscape on queen production. Nonetheless consistent forage resources are key to the persistence of bumble bee populations in this region.”
The group meets three times a year: once in Sacramento, once at UC Davis and once at Concord. Dues? $10 a year. Membership is open to all interested persons.
At the next meeting, set from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 2 in the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Plant Diagnostics Lab, 3288 Meadowview Drive, featured insects include: a parasitic fly that lays its eggs in a honey bee, European grapevine moth, and the Western flower thrips.
One of the San Francisco State University researchers who drew international attention for a journal article on the parasitic fly that infests honey bees will be among the speakers.
John Hafernik, professor in the Biology Department, San Francisco State University, will speak on “Attack of the Zombie-Bee Fly (Apocephalus borealis) on Honey Bees” at 1:15 p.m.
The research, which took place in the Hafernik lab, led to the publication of "A New Threat to Honey Bees, the Parasitic Phorid Fly (Apocephalus borealis) in the Jan. 3rd edition of PLoS Journal.
University Communications wrote in a news release: "The fly, Apocephalus borealis, deposits its eggs into a bee’s abdomen. Usually about seven days after the bee dies, fly larvae push their way into the world from between the bee’s head and thorax. But it’s the middle part of this macabre story that may be the most scientifically interesting to those studying the dramatic and mysterious disappearance of honey bees.
"After being parasitized by the fly, the bees abandon their hives in what is literally a flight of the living dead to congregate near lights. 'When we observed the bees for some time—the ones that were alive—we found that they walked around in circles, often with no sense of direction,' said Andrew Core, an SF State graduate student from Hafernik’s lab who is the lead author on the study."
Hafernik was quoted in the news release: “We don’t know the best way to stop parasitization, because one of the big things we’re missing is where the flies are parasitizing the bees. We assume it’s while the bees are out foraging, because we don’t see the flies hanging around the bee hives. But it’s still a bit of a black hole in terms of where it’s actually happening.”
Should be a fascinating talk!
The Nor-Cal Entomology Society schedule includes:
Registration and coffee
“UC Davis Contained Research Facility: Its Role in Research for Guiding Regulations”-- Kris Godfrey, associate project scientist, Contained Research Facility (CRF), University of California, Davis. She was a scientist with the Biological Control Program, California Department of Food and Agriculture, before joining CRF in August 2001.
“Agriculture, Pesticides, and Biological Control: Comparing Chile and California” -- Michael Parrella, professor and chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology
“Alterations of Feeding Behavior of Frankliniella occidentalis by Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus: Implications for Western Flower Thrips Control” -- Candice Stafford, doctoral candidate in Plant Pathology, UC Davis, and a student of Diane Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and the associate dean for undergraduate academic programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
12:00 Lunch – Group will order out ($15)
“Attack of the Zombie-Bee Fly (Apocephalus borealis) on Honey Bees” -- John Hafernik, Department of Biology, San Francisco State University.
“Forensic Entomology and Its Potential Role in Fire Death Investigations” -- forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, UC Davis Department of Entomology
“An Update on the California European Grapevine Moth (Lobesia botrana) Management Program in Contra Costa County” -- Lucia Varela, UC North Coast IPM Advisor
The Northern California Entomology Society is comprised of university faculty, researchers, pest abatement professionals, students and other interested persons. The group meets the first Thursday in February at the CDFA Plant Diagnostics Lab; the first Thursday in May at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis; and the first Thursday in November in the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District conference room, Concord.
Newly elected president of the group is Robert "Bob" Case of Concord, retired deputy agricultural commissioner from the Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture. He holds a master's degree from San Francisco State University in ecology and systematics and has taught biology and environmental classes at many Bay Area community colleges for some 25 years. Active in the California Native Plant Society, he frequently speaks at plant/garden club meetings on pest management and wildflower photography.
For further information on the Feb. 2nd meeting, contact secretary-treasurer Eric Mussen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 752-0472. Mussen is an Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
When you try to attract leafcutting bees (Megachile spp.) to your bee condos, you may also attract something else.
Bee condos (wood blocks drilled with holes for native bee nests) are a favorite of gardeners and bee enthusiasts. Leafcutting bees lay their eggs in them, provision them with food for the winter, and seal the holes with leaves. Then, in the spring, if all goes well, their offspring will emerge.
Well, some of them will.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, last year installed some bee condos in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road.
Unlike most bee condos, though, his are removable. That is, you can take them apart and look inside.
Thorp recently did just that. On Dec. 22, he opened one of them and voila! Immature leafcutting bees sharing their bed with immature wasps. The predators and their prey. Strange bedfellows, indeed.
What species of wasp?
"The wasp is one of the solitary mason wasps (family Eumenidae) that uses caterpillars as food for their young," Thorp said. "It may be a species in genus Euodynerus. But I will need to wait until they develop to adults to be sure which genus and species it is."
If you want to attract leafcutting bees, check out Thorp's list of resources for native bee nests.
Just don't expect to rear only native bees.
Thomas Seeley has. Many times.
"Choosing the right dwelling place is a life-or-death matter for a honeybee colony," he writes in his book, Honeybee Democracy. "If a colony chooses poorly, and so occupies a nest cavity that is too small to hold the honey stores to survive winter, or that provides it with poor protection from cold winds and hungry marauders, then it will die."
Seeley, a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, where he teaches courses in animal behavior and does research on the functional organization of honey bee colonies, will present two lectures this week on the UC Davis campus.
Seeley will speak on “Swarm Intelligence in Honey Bees” from 4:10 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19 in 2 Wellman Hall as part of the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology’s winter seminar series. Host is Rick Grosberg, professor of evolution and ecology.
Then on Friday, Jan. 20, Seeley will speak on “The Flight Guidance Mechanisms of Honey Bee Swarms" at 12:10 p.m. in 6 Olsen Hall as part of the UC Davis Animal Behavior Group’s winter seminar series. His host will be Brian Johnson, assistant professor at the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Of his Thursday talk, Seeley says: “Swarm intelligence is the solving of a cognitive problem by two or more individuals who independently collect information and process it through social interactions. With the right organization, a group can overcome the cognitive limitations of its members and achieve a high collective IQ. To understand how to endow groups with swarm intelligence, it is useful to examine natural systems that have evolved this ability. An excellent example is a swarm of honey bees solving the life-or-death problem of finding a new home. A honey bee swarm accomplishes this through a process that includes collective fact-finding, open sharing of information, vigorous debating, and fair voting by the hundreds of bees in a swarm that function as nest-site scouts.”
Seeley said he will show “how these incredible insects have much to teach us when it comes to achieving collective wisdom and effective group decision making.”
Seeley, who grew up in Ithaca, N.Y., began keeping and studying bees while a high school student. He left Ithaca in 1970 to attend college at Dartmouth, but he returned home each summer to work for Roger A. Morse at the Dyce Laboratory for Honey Bee Studies at Cornell University. There he learned the craft of beekeeping and “began probing the inner workings of the honey bee colony. “
Thoroughly intrigued by the smooth functioning of bee colonies, Seeley went on to graduate school at Harvard University, earning his doctorate in 1978.
Seeley subsequently taught at Yale for six years, then worked his way home to Ithaca/Cornell in 1986, "where I’ve been ever since.”
In recognition of his scientific work, Seeley has received the Senior Scientist Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Seeley’s research focuses on the internal organization of honey bee colonies. His work is summarized in three books: "Honeybee Ecology" (1985, Princeton University Press), 'The Wisdom of the Hive" (1995, Harvard University Press), and "Honeybee Democracy" (2010, Princeton University Press).