Social bees and food plant associations in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, India
Thomas, S. G., Rehel, S. M., Varghese, A., Davidar, P. and Potts, S. G. (2009) Social bees and food plant associations in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, India. Tropical Ecology, 50 (1). pp. 79-88. ISSN 0564-3295
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The diversity of social bees was assessed at 15 sites across five locations of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Western Ghats, India, from January to December 2007. We also conducted floristic analyses of local vegetation in each site using one-hectare sample plots. All woody species with a dbh (diameter at breast height) : 30 cm were recorded within the plots. A total area of 9.72 ha was assessed for floristic composition. Similarity of floristic composition between sites was determined using the Jaccard's distance measure and a dendrogram constructed based on the hierarchical clustering of floristic dissimilarities between sites. A Bee Importance Index (BII) was developed to give a measure of the bee diversity at each site. This index was a sum of the species richness of bee species in a site and their visitation frequencies to flowers, calculated as mean flower visits hour 1 within 2 focal patches within one hectare plots. The visits of bee species to flowers were also recorded. The Jaccard distance measure indicated that the montane sites were quite dissimilar to the low elevation sites in floristic diversity. The BII was 7-9 for the wet forest sites and ranged from 4-6 for drier forest sites. Seventy three plant species were identified as social bee plants and of them 45% were visited by one species of bee, 37% by two bee species and 18% by more than two bee species, indicating a certain degree of floral specialization among bees.