Bombus fraternus - (Smith, 1854)
Southern Plains Bumble Bee
Synonym(s): Bombus (Cullumanobombus) fraternus (Smith, 1854)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Bombus fraternus (Smith, 1854) (TSN 714805)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.832125
Element Code: IIHYM24440
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Bumble Bees
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Hymenoptera Apidae Bombus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Williams, P. H. 2008a. Bombus, bumblebees of the world. Web pages based on Williams, P.H. 1998. An annotated checklist of bumblebees with an analysis of patterns of description (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Bombini). Bulletin of the Natural History Museum (Entomology) 67:79-152. Online. Available: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/bombus/index.html. Accessed 2008-Oct.
Concept Reference Code: W08WIL01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Bombus (Cullumanobombus) fraternus
Taxonomic Comments: Subgenus: Cullumanobombus.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 30Jun2015
Global Status Last Changed: 30Jun2015
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This apparently prairie-associated and coastal plain bumblebee is reportedly still rather common in Florida (Pascarella, 2006), although Hatfield et al. (2014) show only two 2002-2012 records there. Hatfield et al.'s graph shows a very large (about 90%) decline in relative abundance from the 1990s to 2002-2012. However their graph also shows its relative abundance to have been about three times higher in the 1990s than in the 1960s through 1980s. Compared to those decades the decline is closer to 65%. The species had a very large pre-1960 decline, probably well over 90%. Like most prairie species it has probably lost most of its habitat in the Midwest, and this is likely to be true in the Southeast as well. However, at least in Missouri it is apparently not rare in current prairie remnants, and both the Kansas and Illinois observations suggest it can use somewhat disturbed habitats that support native wild flowers. Hopwood (2008, Appendix A) did find a few in suitable habitats including restored native roadside flora in Kansas. It still exists in Illinois, which as Grixti et al. (2009) note, approaches a worst case scenario in terms of habitat, but it is rather rare. It is not known how suitable prairie management practices are for this species. While there are many other unknowns, but given multiple recent records in several portions of the range (especially Missouri where it has been looked for), it is unlikely that it is imminently imperiled (G1) but it is rather rare, still declining, and not secure. For now, the available information suggests this relatively specialized bumblebee appears to be much reduced in area of occupancy in most of its range, which has contracted substantially northward. It is historic much of its range.   The range may now be now fragmented in the central US and along the southeastern coast.  However Hatfield et al. (2014) show nine 2002-2012 records from South Carolina to the Florida panhandle, not an area of intensive effort, a tight cluster of six or seven in southwestern Missouri, another three on the Iowa-Nebraska border, and a cluster of five in Colorado; with more scattered records from north Carolina to Texas. Obviously there are undetected occurrences. The Rank Calculator rank is G1G3, the pre-calculator rank was G3, which still seems to be the most likely rank.  With a few dozen post-2002 records, G1 is rejected, but given that Hatfield et al. (2014) provide strong evidence of a continuing decline since 2002, that the species is more of a habitat specialist than many bumble bees G2 is quite plausible, and that the core range is intensely agricultural (thus increasing risk for pesticides), G2 now seems plausible.  Hatfield et al. (2014) conclude the species meets IUCN standards for Endangered.  
Nation: United States
National Status: NNR

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Arkansas (SNR), Colorado (SNR), Florida (SNR), Illinois (SNR), Indiana (S3), Louisiana (SNR), Maryland (SNR), Massachusetts (SNA), Michigan (SNR), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (SNR), Nebraska (SNR), Oklahoma (SNR), Texas (SNR), Virginia (SU), Wyoming (SNR)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: EN - Endangered

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Mitchell (1962) states that this mainly mid continent species occurs east to Michigan and Florida but does not discuss western limits in detail. This is the only eastern North American bumblebee that is apparently not known from Canada. Bumblebee.org indicates "New Jersey down to Florida" (www.bumblebee.org) for the East.  Smith (1910) reported no New Jersey records, but Norden (2008) does report it from Plummer's Island, Maryland. The range is mostly in the plains and prairie regions of the central U.S... east of the Rocky Mountains, from the Dakotas (historic) to New Mexico and eastward on the coastal plain to Florida, and north at least to North Carolina currently. Kearns and Oliveras (2009) did not report either historic or recent records from the Boulder, Colorado area. There are recent records (1990s and since) for at least Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, North Carolina, and Florida. Records as far north as the Dakotas, Michigan, and New Jersey are apparently quite old. The Discover Life website shows records for northern Ohio, but not recently, and Hatfield et al. (2014) accept these. The sole published Wisconsin record from Green Lake collected in 1911 was subsequently cited by Graenicher (1935) but not by Medler and Carney (1963). Wolf and Ascher (2008) regard this record as hypothetical and do not include it on the list of fully verified species. Hatfield et al. (2014) provide a very thorough map of the currently documented and historic range. Although they map a much larger EOO for the east, this is a hypothetical computer estimate, a substantial portion of it devoid of any records.  If a single old southwestern Virginia record is excluded, this becomes essentially a Great Plains and Tall Grass Prairie region species that extends east in the Great Lakes region to Ohio and across the southern parts of the Gulf States to Florida and then north more or less along the coast and Sand Hills to New Jersey and Connecticut.  Records since 2002 indicate a much smaller range with no east coast records north of southeastern North Carolina (Hatfield et al., 2014).  Recent records are clustered at the extreme western edge of the range in and near Colorado, as well as in southwestern Missouri with a few others at about that longitude north through Iowa; and a third cluster on the coastal plain of the Carolinas to Florida; also a few scattered records including two in northern Texas with three in the lower Ohio and Mississippi Valleys.  Based on this more restricted range the decline in range extent is still substantial but probably less than estimated by Hatfield et al. (2014), with  large range reductions on the east coast and in the northern Midwest to the Dakotas. 

Area of Occupancy: Unknown 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 300

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Insufficient information to evaluate threats. However losss of habitat is probably more of a threat with this species than with most bumblebees. Generally recognized threats to bumblebees such as loss of habitat, low population size, herbicides, and pesticides would apply locally at least. There is no evidence that this species is affected much by exotic pathogens. Since this species is more of a habitat specialist than most bumblebees, loss and fragmentation of grassland habitat is more likely to be an issue with this one. Also inappropriate management could be more of a threat than usual.  Since much of its range is heavily agricultural, impacts from drift and run off of persistent systemic biocides seem to be more of a potential range-wide concern than with more widespread North American species but actual data are needed.

Short-term Trend: Decline of >30%
Short-term Trend Comments: It is not clear that the status as reported but Hatfield et al. (2014) for 2002-2012 is really much different from that in the 1990s. Michael Arduser (email to D. Schweitzer, September 2008) indicates the species is not rare in the remaining prairies in Missouri. See long term trend. Except for Grixti et al. (2009) in Illinois where the species has apparently disappeared widely, most recent studies that might provide useful trend information are not from within the range of this species. Pascarella (2006) reports this to be apparently among the three most common of the seven species of bumblebees in Florida. The graph of Hatfield et al. (2014) clearly shows a decline from in 2002-2012 compared to 1992-2001, but interpretation is complicated by the high relative abundance during the latter period compared tto most previous decades.

Long-term Trend: Decline of >70%
Long-term Trend Comments: The greatest decline is probably in relative abundance, but the range appears to have shrunk nothward both along the east coast and in the Midwest with large gaps in records elsewhere. Grixti et al. (2009) report a large decline between 1900 and 1950, which they interpret as due to habitat loss mostly to agriculture, and they suggest relatively stable at low numbers in Illinois since.  However, Hatfield et al. (2014) show only one 2002-2012 record there. The few specimen records for South Dakota found by Johnson (2009) are from the 1920s, despite recent surveys of prairie bees in that state.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Not intrinsically vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: This is not a late phenology species, which would be associated with some intrinsic vulnerability, and its subgenus is not known to be affected by recent crashes of certain other subgenera.

Environmental Specificity: Narrow to moderate.
Environmental Specificity Comments: While not strictly a prairie obligate, this one is less generalized in habitat than most bumblebees. In the east it seems to be more or less restricted to sandy outer coastal plain and sand hill regions.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Information on status in and up the coast from North Carolina is needed.

Distribution
Help
Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Mitchell (1962) states that this mainly mid continent species occurs east to Michigan and Florida but does not discuss western limits in detail. This is the only eastern North American bumblebee that is apparently not known from Canada. Bumblebee.org indicates "New Jersey down to Florida" (www.bumblebee.org) for the East.  Smith (1910) reported no New Jersey records, but Norden (2008) does report it from Plummer's Island, Maryland. The range is mostly in the plains and prairie regions of the central U.S... east of the Rocky Mountains, from the Dakotas (historic) to New Mexico and eastward on the coastal plain to Florida, and north at least to North Carolina currently. Kearns and Oliveras (2009) did not report either historic or recent records from the Boulder, Colorado area. There are recent records (1990s and since) for at least Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, North Carolina, and Florida. Records as far north as the Dakotas, Michigan, and New Jersey are apparently quite old. The Discover Life website shows records for northern Ohio, but not recently, and Hatfield et al. (2014) accept these. The sole published Wisconsin record from Green Lake collected in 1911 was subsequently cited by Graenicher (1935) but not by Medler and Carney (1963). Wolf and Ascher (2008) regard this record as hypothetical and do not include it on the list of fully verified species. Hatfield et al. (2014) provide a very thorough map of the currently documented and historic range. Although they map a much larger EOO for the east, this is a hypothetical computer estimate, a substantial portion of it devoid of any records.  If a single old southwestern Virginia record is excluded, this becomes essentially a Great Plains and Tall Grass Prairie region species that extends east in the Great Lakes region to Ohio and across the southern parts of the Gulf States to Florida and then north more or less along the coast and Sand Hills to New Jersey and Connecticut.  Records since 2002 indicate a much smaller range with no east coast records north of southeastern North Carolina (Hatfield et al., 2014).  Recent records are clustered at the extreme western edge of the range in and near Colorado, as well as in southwestern Missouri with a few others at about that longitude north through Iowa; and a third cluster on the coastal plain of the Carolinas to Florida; also a few scattered records including two in northern Texas with three in the lower Ohio and Mississippi Valleys.  Based on this more restricted range the decline in range extent is still substantial but probably less than estimated by Hatfield et al. (2014), with  large range reductions on the east coast and in the northern Midwest to the Dakotas. 

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AR, CO, FL, IL, IN, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MS, NE, OK, TX, VA, WY

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Habitat Comments: At least in its core range this bumblebee is generally associated with remnants of native prairie vegetation and is more of a habitat specialist than most Bombus species are. If it really does extend up the coast from Florida to New Jersey, this would be a common distribution for prairie-savanna insects.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Potential or actual impacts from perisitent systemic biocicdes including neonicotinoids since the 1990s need to be evaluated, but this might or might not be a serious issue where populations still occur on grassland preserves in heavily agricultural regions.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 05Jun2015
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

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