Free Access
Volume 39, Number 1, January-February 2008
Insights into Bee Evolution: A Tribute to Charles D. Michener
Page(s) 46 - 74
Published online 09 February 2008
Apidologie 39 (2008) 46-74
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2007052

A simplified subgeneric classification of the bumblebees (genus Bombus)

Paul H. Williams1, Sydney A. Cameron2, Heather M. Hines2, Bjorn Cederberg3 and Pierre Rasmont4

1  Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK
2  Department of Entomology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
3  Swedish Species Information Centre, University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 7007, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
4  Laboratory of Zoology, University of Mons-Hainaut, Avenue Maistriau 19, 7000 Mons, Belgium

(Received 26 June 2007 - Revised 14 October 2007 - Accepted 15 October 2007 - Published online 9 February 2008)

Abstract - A system of subgenera has been widely used for nearly a century to communicate ideas of relationships among bumblebee species. However, with 38 subgenera in recent lists for about 250 species, the system has come to be seen as too complicated. In this paper we suggest four criteria to guide the process of simplifying the subgeneric system, so that ideally subgenera should become: (1) monophyletic; (2) fewer; (3) diagnosable from morphology; and (4) names for important behavioural and ecological groups. Using a new strongly-supported estimate of phylogeny for almost all bumblebee species, we apply these criteria to reduce the system to 15 subgenera, and we assess the consequences. Ten new subgeneric synonyms are recognised. Keys to identify adult bumblebees to the simplified subgenera are provided for both sexes.

Key words: bumblebee / Bombus / subgenera / phylogeny / classification

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008