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Bees collect polyurethane and polyethylene plastics as novel nest materials

Bees collect polyurethane and polyethylene plastics as novel nest materials

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Title: Bees collect polyurethane and polyethylene plastics as novel nest materials
Author: MacIvor, J. Scott
Moore, Andrew E.
Abstract: Plastic waste pervades the global landscape. Although adverse impacts on both species and ecosystems have been documented, there are few observations of behavioral flexibility and adaptation in species, especially insects, to increasingly plastic-rich environments. Here, two species of megachilid bee are described independently using different types of polyurethane and polyethylene plastics in place of natural materials to construct and close brood cells in nests containing successfully emerging brood. The plastics collected by each bee species resembled the natural materials usually sought; Megachile rotundata, which uses cut plant leaves, was found constructing brood cells out of cut pieces of polyethylene-based plastic bags, and Megachile campanulae, which uses plant and tree resins, had brood cells constructed out of a polyurethane-based exterior building sealant. Although perhaps incidentally collected, the novel use of plastics in the nests of bees could reflect ecologically adaptive traits necessary for survival in an increasingly human-dominated environment.
Sponsor: We thank Dr. Laurence Packer, Sheila Dumesh, Bahar Salehi and Erik Glemser for comments and discussion for the manuscript. Funding was provided by Dr. Packer’s NSERC Discovery Grant and an NSERC-CGS awarded to the first author. J. S. MacIvor conceived and implemented the study, found the bee nests and reared the larvae. A. E. Moore analyzed the M. campanulae cells. J. S. MacIvor compiled and wrote the manuscript, A. E. Moore collaborated on the methods. A. E. Moore provided the graphs for the figures. J. S. MacIvor imaged the brood cells. Both authors critically revised the manuscript and approved it for publication. Publication was made possible by the York University Libraries' Open Access Author Fund
Subject: adaptive behavior
cavity-nesting bee
megachile campanulae
megachile rotundata
megachilid bees
nest box
plasticity
polyethylene-based plastic bags
polyurethane-based exterior house sealant
toronto, ontario, canada
trap nest
urban environment
Type: Article
Rights: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Attribution 2.5 Canada
http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES13-00308.1
http://www.esajournals.org/
http://www.esapubs.org/
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/ca/
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/27013
Published: Ecological Society of America
Series: Ecosphere;4(12) ; York University Libraries' Open Access Author Fund
Citation: MacIvor, J. S., and A. E. Moore. 2013. Bees collect polyurethane and polyethylene plastics as novel nest materials. Ecosphere 4(12):155. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES13-00308.1
Date: 2013-12-31

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This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.