Free Access
Volume 31, Number 2, March-April 2000
Taxonomy and Evolutionary biology of the Honeybees
Page(s) 157 - 165
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2000113

Apidologie 31 (2000) 157-165

Ecoclines in the Near East along 36$^{\circ}$ N latitude in Apis mellifera L.

Friedrich Ruttnera[*] - M. Pour Elmib[*] - Stefan Fuchsa

aInstitut für Bienenkunde (Polytechnische Gesellschaft), J.-W. Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, Karl-von-Frisch Weg 2, 61440 Oberursel, Germany
bInstitut für Tierzucht und Haustiergenetik und Zentrum für kontinentale Agrar-und Wirtschaftsforschung der Justus-Liebig Universität, Giessen, Ludwigstr. 21B, 35390 Giessen, Germany


The ideas examined and the results presented in the last unfinished manuscript of Friedrich Ruttner have been further developed. Within the 6 populations of the Near East distinguishable by morphometry, the bees of Massandaran in Iran occupy an important position due to their large size. Even sea-level bees exceed the size of the bees of the elevated region of Central Iran, which seems to contradict Bergmanns' s rule. An extended study had revealed that this population, clearly belonging to the subspecies Apis mellifera meda, shows a very distinct size increase from the Caspian Sea to the northern slope of the Elbrus Mountains, rising to 2 200 m in elevation. A similar but less pronounced ecocline with a marked increase in size can be found reaching up from the Mediterranean coast to the elevated Central Iranian region. The general pattern within A. m. meda in the region along 36$^{\circ}$ N latitude thus generally confirms Bergmann's rule, thus providing a fine example of an ecoclinal structure. However, size differences between the extremes, i.e., the Mediterranean and the coast of the Caspian Sea remain marked, which indicates an additional genetic component linked to a different history of the populations. This might prove to be an interesting aspect, as the area covered by A. meda is suspected to have played a major role in the evolution of A. mellifera.

Keywords: Apis mellifera meda / morphometry / ecocline

Correspondence and reprints: Stefan Fuchs

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