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Extent of invasion of Tasmanian native vegetation by the exotic bumblebee Bombus terrestris (Apoidea: Apidae)
journal contributionposted on 2002-04-01, 00:00 authored by A B Hingston, J Marsden-Smedley, Don DriscollDon Driscoll, S Corbett, J Fenton, R Anderson, C Plowman, F Mowling, M Jenkin, K Matsui, K J Bonham, M Ilowski, P B Mcquillan, B Yaxley, T Reid, D Storey, L Poole, S A Mallick, N Fitzgerald, J B Kirkpatrick
Observations of the large earth bumblebee, Bombus terrestris (L.), in native vegetation were collated to determine the extent to which this exotic species has invaded Tasmanian native vegetation during the first 9 years after its introduction. The range of B. terrestris now encompasses all of Tasmania's major vegetation types, altitudes from sea level to 1260 m a.s.l., and the entire breadth of annual precipitation in the state from more than 3200 mm to less than 600 mm. Observations of workers carrying pollen, together with the presence of large numbers of bumblebees at many localities across this range indicate that colonies are frequently established in native vegetation. Evidence that colonies are often successful was obtained from repeated observations of the species during more than 1 year at particular sites. Unequivocal evidence of colonies was obtained from six National Parks, including four of the five in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (WHA). Indeed, the species has been present in the WHA for at least as long as it has in the city of Hobart, where it was first recorded. In southwestern Tasmania, evidence of colonies was obtained up to 40 km from gardens, 61 km from small towns and 93 km from large towns. Hence, contrary to previous suggestions, the species is established in the most remote parts of Tasmania and is not dependent on introduced garden plants. Given their strong record of invasion, it is likely that B. terrestris will form feral populations on the mainland of Australia and in many other parts of the world if introduced. Because of their likely negative impacts on native animals and plants, and potential to enhance seed production in weeds, the spread of bumblebees should be avoided.