The habitat fragmentation negatively affects the population size of stingless bees, resulting in the loss of genetic variability. In fact, the effective population size of hymenopteran species can be reduced by reasons of their own biology traits, such as, the haplodiploidy, eusociality, sex determination (csd locus), the monadry of the female, and the process of the colony reproduction by swarming. For these reasons, when compared to diplodiploidy insects, the hymenopteran insects have shown lower levels of genetic variation. Despite the ecological importance of the stingless bees, there are few studies on the biology and population genetics of these bees. The target organism in this project, the Partamona ailyae species, is part of Cupira clade. This species occurs from the rainforests of Southwestern of Amazonas to the xeric regions of Piauí. The nesting habits of the species changes according to the area of occurrence. This study is mainly aimed to analyze how the process of colonization works in different sites of occurrence of P. ailyae, and to estimate the level of genetic differentiation of populations in wet (Amazon rainforest) and xeric (Savannah and Caatinga) environments. Therefore, adult females will be analyzed for mitochondrial genes, in order to estimate the number of female lineages that originated the resident population in the areas studied. It will be also investigated some ecological aspects of P. ailyae in order to know what substrates are used for nesting and what are their host termite species. Studies of this nature are relevant to assessing the risks of bee populations across environmental changes, contributing to the design of conservation strategies.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: