Vol. 55, 2016
The Cryptic Bombus lucorum complex (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in Austria: Phylogeny, Distribution, Habitat Usage and a Climatic Characterization Based on COI Sequence Data
Silas Bossert1,*, Barbara-Amina Gereben-Krenn2, Johann Neumayer3, Bernhard Schneller4, and Harald W. Krenn5
Vienna, Department of Integrative Zoology, Althanstraße 14 UZA1,
1090 Vienna, Austria
(Received 22 January 2015; Accepted 15 December 2015)
Silas Bossert, Barbara-Amina
Gereben-Krenn, Johann Neumayer,
Bernhard Schneller, and Harald W.
Krenn (2016) The
complex represents a group of three distinct but cryptic bumblebee
species in Europe. With the advent of DNA-based identification methods,
their species status was confirmed and the use of COI barcoding proved
to be an especially useful tool for species identification within the
group. Meanwhile, the identification based on morphology remains
difficult and recent studies challenged the general distinguishability
by revealing an important character to be unreliable. This has
consequences for our understanding of the distribution and ecology of
the species in Europe and aggravates our patchy knowledge of the
situation in Austria and the whole area of the European Alps. In this
study, we investigate the exact species composition and distribution of
the Bombus lucorum complex in Austria based on the reliable
species identification with COI sequence data. The habitat usage is
studied and the first extensive investigation of altitudinal and
climatic differentiation is provided. The results support three
distinct genotypic groups in the Bombus lucorum complex.
B. lucorum and B. cryptarum co-occur in several areas
across the country, with B. lucorum being the most common and
most widespread species. The study provides no evidence for the
presence of B. magnus in Austria. The less common species, B.
cryptarum, mainly occurs in the high mountains and is the
predominant species of the complex above altitudes of 2100 m a.s.l.
Further, B. cryptarum is almost absent from woodlands and is
relatively more abundant in habitats with colder climate than B.
lucorum in Austria. Additionally, the results indicate a very low
intraspecific genetic variation within B. lucorum and B.
This study confirms previous findings of three distinct species within
the species complex. Based on reliable COI identification, the first
coherent overview of the species complex in Austria can be achieved.
The climatic data allows us to explain the differences in the
distribution patterns. Moreover, the low intraspecific variation may
indicate past bottleneck conditions for B. lucorum and B.
Key words: Bombus lucorum complex, Bombus cryptarum, Cryptic species, Ecological differentiation, Distribution patterns, Austrian Alps.
*Correspondence: Current address: Cornell University, Department of Entomology, 14853 Ithaca, NY, USA. Phone: +1 607 882 1465. E-mail: email@example.com
Citation: Bossert S, Gereben-Krenn B, Neumayer J, Schneller B, Krenn HW. 2016. The cryptic Bombus lucorum
complex (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in Austria: phylogeny, distribution,
habitat usage and a climatic characterization based on COI sequence
data. Zool Stud 55:13. doi:10.6620/ZS.2016.55-13.