High Altitude Bumblebees Topic of AMK Ranch Series

July 26, 2010

How bumblebees manage to survive in a high altitude environment is the topic for the summer seminar series Thursday, July 29, at the University of Wyoming-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Center. The center is located at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.

Michael Dillon, University of Wyoming Department of Zoology and Physiology assistant professor, will discuss "Flying Mt. Everest: How Alpine Bumblebees Fly Where Helicopters Fail," at 6:30 p.m. at the AMK Ranch, north of Leeks Marina. A barbecue will be held at 5:30 p.m. with a $5 per person fee; reservations are not required. For more information, call the UW-NPS Center at (307) 543-2463.

Dillon will discuss his research work, including western China, that focuses on how bumblebees manage to survive in high altitude while some animal species do not.

"High altitude is a challenge to animals native to the mountains, especially for small flying insects," Dillon says. "Bumblebees are abundant and diverse at high elevations -- even at 17,000 feet -- presenting a physiological paradox."

He says bumblebees manage to flourish at high altitudes despite the challenges of limited oxygen, cold temperatures and reduced aerodynamic lift.

The UW-NPS Research Center provides a base for university faculty members and governmental scientists from throughout North America to conduct research in the diverse aquatic and terrestrial environments of Grand Teton National Park and the Greater Yellowstone Area.


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