University of Sussex

File(s) not publicly available

Reconstructing demographic events from population genetic data: The introduction of bumblebees to New Zealand

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 18:57 authored by G C Lye, O Lepais, Dave GoulsonDave Goulson
Four British bumblebee species (Bombus terrestris, Bombus hortorum, Bombus ruderatus and Bombus subterraneus) became established in New Zealand following their introduction at the turn of the last century. Of these, two remain common in the United Kingdom (B. terrestris and B. hortorum), whilst two (B. ruderatus and B. subterraneus) have undergone marked declines, the latter being declared extinct in 2000. The presence of these bumblebees in New Zealand provides an unique system in which four related species have been isolated from their source population for over 100 years, providing a rare opportunity to examine the impacts of an initial bottleneck and introduction to a novel environment on their population genetics. We used microsatellite markers to compare modern populations of B. terrestris, B. hortorum and B. ruderatus in the United Kingdom and New Zealand and to compare museum specimens of British B. subterraneus with the current New Zealand population. We used approximate Bayesian computation to estimate demographic parameters of the introduction history, notably to estimate the number of founders involved in the initial introduction. Species-specific patterns derived from genetic analysis were consistent with the predictions based on the presumed history of these populations; demographic events have left a marked genetic signature on all four species. Approximate Bayesian analyses suggest that the New Zealand population of B. subterraneus may have been founded by as few as two individuals, giving rise to low genetic diversity and marked genetic divergence from the (now extinct) UK population. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Publication status

  • Published


Molecular Ecology









Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Evolution, Behaviour and Environment Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected