The high alpine European bumble bee Bombus (Thoracobombus) inexspectatus is one of three taxa in which obligate social parasitism has evolved in bumble bees. Until now, the phylogenetic placement of this species has not been analyzed quantitatively because it is rare in nature. Here a specimen of B. inexspectatus is sequenced for five genes to assess its phylogenetic position relative to other bumble bee species. Phylogenetic estimation of B. inexspectatus places this species within the subgenus Thoracobombus, as expected based on morphology. This provides strong support for the acquisition of social parasitism in B. inexspectatus separate from that found in the bumble bees of the subgenus Psithyrus and B. (Alpinobombus) hyperboreus. Furthermore, B. inexspectatus is not the sister taxon of its host but is a near relative, suggesting a loose but not strict adherence to Emery's rule. B. inexspectatus is a sister taxon to a clade including B. veteranus, a frequent nest usurper that has been suggested to be a facultative social parasite. The phylogenetic placement of all bumble bee social parasites relative to their hosts is discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science