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Jacquelyn Fitzgerald

PhD Student


Jackie's webpage
Major advisor: Paul CaraDonna, PhD
Research topic: Bumble bee allometry in a warming world: connecting trait variation to vulnerability to climate change
Research interests: Ecology of native bees, pollination ecology, community ecology

Current research:
For my dissertation, I am interested in understanding bumble bee body size and its consequences. There are substantial and meaningful size differences between bee species, but considerable size variation also exists within species, and, for eusocial bumble bees, across castes and within colonies. Yet, we have very few records of intraspecific size variation for wild bumble bees at the population or community level. There is evidence that large-bodied bee species, such as bumble bees, are more vulnerable to climate change and other disturbances. This has been found at both the community and population level; large-bodied species are declining, and within-species body size is decreasing. If body size is shifted or constrained, there will likely be strong effects on pollination services with potentially cascading effects on the rest of the community. While the potential for intraspecific variation in size to interact with bees’ vulnerability to decline remains largely unstudied, recent work in bumble bees has suggested that greater intraspecific variation in size broadly across a species buffers the negative effects of climate and land use changes. If climate change is disrupting body size frequency distributions, understanding the rate and magnitude of these changes will be critical in informing conservation decisions for bees and the plants that depend on their services. There is a distinct need for analysis of bee body size distributions at the intraspecific, interspecific, and assemblage level. In addition, body size is fundamental to the basic ecology of organisms and understanding the functional variation in this trait is important in understanding the natural history of bees. Currently, I am investigating how size variation within and between bumble bee species correlates to other life history traits, like emergence timing and diet breadth.


Awards: 2019-current National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2020 RMBL Graduate Fellowship Hunter Endowment $1,200


Community ecology, plant-pollinator interactions, natural history, climate change