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Fine-scale genetic structure, co-founding and multiple mating in the Australian allodapine bee (Exoneura robusta)


Adam J. Stow, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia.
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Despite the role of Australian native bees in important ecological processes, surprisingly little is known of their population structuring. In this study five microsatellite loci were used to investigate genetic structuring of the allodapine bee Exoneura robusta sampled from four locations (maximum pairwise distance c. 35 km) in the Mountain Ash forests of Victoria. Although E. robusta would seem to have high dispersal ability, several analyses show significant population subdivision and a strong pattern of isolation-by-distance from which limited gene flow was inferred. Limited gene flow was not associated with inbreeding at the within-colony level, and within-colony genetic structure implied co-founding, multiple breeding pairs and some degree of reproductive skew. Strong population structure at such fine scales suggests that substantially divergent populations are likely within the extensive distribution currently ascribed to E. robusta.

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