Puerto Rico Honey Bee and Preadaptation and Evolution of Invasive Organisms on Islands Grant

Puerto Rico Honey Bee and Preadaptation and Evolution of Invasive Organisms on Islands .


  • Honey bees are among the most successful invasive organisms worldwide, both on and off islands. They play a key role as pollinators in agricultural systems worldwide, but are also threatened by human activities. This award supports the first conference to examine one strain of non-native honey bee, the Puerto Rico Gentle Africanized honey bee, through the lens of invasion biology and island biogeography. The conference is timely for two reasons. First, the introduction and radiation of invasive organisms, and threats to honey bee health, continue unabated. Second, invasive organisms - and honey bees in particular - have a critical impact on global food security. In this conference, researchers will communicate new findings that aim to stimulate their research and that of their students and interact directly with stakeholders who can apply basic research findings to improve management decisions. The new research directions and improved management decisions are expected to translate into economic benefits for a much-challenged Puerto Rico island economy. Additionally, because the invited participants include a diverse set of student participants from the University of Puerto Rico, this conference has the potential to broaden participation in STEM.The amount and type of data available for honey bees, including the Puerto Rico Gentle Africanized honey bee, are unparalleled. However, bee researchers do not use an invasive biology perspective, and invasive biology studies typically do not examine the honey bee as a model. The adaptation of Africanized honey bees to the island of Puerto Rico is an example of the changes that can occur to invasive organisms and their ecosystem during island colonization. The invasion process impacts the invading as well as the resident species and the ecosystem in which they navigate. One of the advantages of studying island populations is that such adaptive processes are accelerated. Moreover, adaptive processes may show similar patterns across species and as such, data from island populations can be particularly useful to develop and test models of invasion biology. This three-day conference will develop an integrative analysis approach to honey bee invasions using various types of data generated by different research areas and approaches to invasion biology. These include genomics, morphology, behavior and ecology. On the first day, all participants will give presentations. For the second day, attendees will visit field sites to observe the honey bee population established on the island of Puerto Rico. On the third day, attendees will form breakout groups for round table discussions leading to a strategic plan on research directions, resources, and policy advice on bees and other invasive organisms on islands.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • July 1, 2019 - July 31, 2021

sponsor award ID

  • 1940621