Thermoregulation in four species of tropical solitary bees: the roles of size, sex and altitude

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Body temperatures during free flight in the field, warm-up rates during pre-flight warm-up, and temperatures during tethered flight are measured for four tropical solitary bee species at three sites of differing altitude in Papua New Guinea. All four species are capable of endothermic preflight warm-up; three species give slopes of thoracic temperature on ambient temperature of significantly less than 1, indicating regulation of thoracic temperature. In the kleptoparasitic Coelioxys spp. (Megachilidae) and Thyreus quadrimaculatus (Anthophoridae), warm-up rates and thoracic temperatures in flight are low by comparison with the two provisioning species Creightonella frontalis (Megachilidae) and Amegilla sapiens (Anthophoridae). In both C. frontalis and A. sapiens thoracic temperatures correlate positively and significantly with both ambient temperature and body mass. In A. sapiens, body mass increases with altitude; this can be interpreted as a response to lower ambient temperatures at higher altitude, an example of Bergmann's rule. In both A. sapiens and C. frontalis populations at higher altitude have higher thoracic temperatures independent of differences of body mass, suggestive of additional morphological or physiological adaptation to lower ambient temperatures. In A. sapiens there is no qualitative difference in body temperatures between males and females after controlling for body mass, while male C. frontalis have significantly lower thoracic temperatures than females of the species. This difference between A. sapiens and C.frontalis is discussed with reference to variation in mating systems found in the Apoidea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-326
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1993


  • Thermoregulation
  • Body temperature
  • Apoidea
  • Anthophoridae
  • Megachilidae


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