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Portrait of Henrik Smith. Photo.

Henrik Smith


Portrait of Henrik Smith. Photo.

The potential and realized foraging movements of bees are differentially determined by body size and sociality


  • Liam K Kendall
  • John M Mola
  • Zachary M Portman
  • Daniel P Cariveau
  • Henrik G Smith
  • Ignasi Bartomeus

Summary, in English

Reversing biodiversity declines requires a better understanding of organismal mobility, as movement processes dictate the scale at which species interact with the environment. Previous studies have demonstrated that species foraging ranges, and therefore, habitat use increases with body size. Yet, foraging ranges are also affected by other life-history traits, such as sociality, which influence the need of and ability to detect resources. We evaluated the effect of body size and sociality on potential and realized foraging ranges using a compiled dataset of 383 measurements for 81 bee species. Potential ranges were larger than realized ranges and increased more steeply with body size. Highly eusocial species had larger realized foraging ranges than primitively eusocial or solitary taxa. We contend that potential ranges describe species movement capabilities, whereas realized ranges depict how foraging movements result from interactions between species traits and environmental conditions. Furthermore, the complex communication strategies and large colony sizes in highly eusocial species may facilitate foraging over wider areas in response to resource depletion. Our findings should contribute to a greater understanding of landscape ecology and conservation, as traits that influence movement mediate species vulnerability to habitat loss and fragmentation.


  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • Biodiversity and Conservation Science
  • Biodiversity

Publishing year










Document type

Journal article


Ecological Society of America


  • Ecology



Research group

  • Biodiversity and Conservation Science


  • ISSN: 0012-9658