The Bee That Survived The Tsar Bomba ...

... now identified as a new species ...

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The Bee That Survived The Tsar Bomba ...

#1  Postby Calilasseia » Oct 04, 2017 6:33 pm

There's a paper due to be published in the journal Polar Biology, centred upon a species of bee, Bombus glacialis, which is described as new to science. Nothing unusual in that, you might think, until you learn that the species is endemic to the island of Novaya Zemlya.

For those unfamiliar with this far northern island off the Siberian coast of Russia, Novaya Zemlya was used for nuclear weapons testing by the former Soviet Union, including the test of the Tsar Bomba, a 50 megaton weapon which, when detonated, was the most powerful weapon ever detonated by Man.

One could be forgiven for thinking that a 50 megaton nuclear detonation would wipe out everything alive on the island. But, apparently, this bee have not only survived the Tsar Bomba nuclear test, but provided evidence that it could be a new species.

More on this here.

I'll see if the paper materialises in the near future.
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Re: The Bee That Survived The Tsar Bomba ...

#2  Postby felltoearth » Oct 05, 2017 8:21 pm

Forget Mothra!
"Walla Walla Bonga!" — Witticism
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Re: The Bee That Survived The Tsar Bomba ...

#3  Postby Calilasseia » Mar 24, 2018 11:05 pm

And now, the scientific paper is available. You can download it for free from here ...

An Integrative Taxonomic Approach Confirms The Valid Status Of Bombus glacialis, An Endemic Bumblebee Species Of The High Arctic by G. S. Potapov, A. V. Kondakov, V. M. Spitsyn, B. Yu. Filippov, Yu. S. Kolosova, N. A. Zubrii, & I. N. Bolotov, Polar Biology DOI: 10.1007/s00300-017-2224-y (8th December 2017)

Potapov et al, 2017 wrote:Abstract

The evolutionary biogeography of the Arctic Ocean islands is a relatively little-known topic. The Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, a severe mountain land of glaciers, rocks, Arctic deserts and tundra, is among the most enigmatic places in the world because it was a closed area for more than half a century. Here, we report the results of an integrative study of Bombus glacialis Friese, 1902, which has been described from the archipelago. We found that this island lineage has a high level of mtDNA COI gene divergence and a unique nucleotide substitution in the nDNA EF-1α gene but is a sister taxon of B. lapponicus and B. sylvicola. A redescription of the species using Friese’s syntype and newly collected topotypes from Novaya Zemlya is presented. Our results confirm the species status of B. glacialis from Novaya Zemlya, although its relationships with morphologically similar lineages inhabiting other High Arctic areas (Kolguev Island, Kanin Peninsula and Wrangel Island) should be determined in the future. Overall, new findings highlight that the Arctic Ocean archipelagos could preserve cold-tolerant Quaternary relict lineages of invertebrates, which currently may be on the brink of extinction due to climate warming.
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Re: The Bee That Survived The Tsar Bomba ...

#4  Postby zulumoose » Mar 25, 2018 6:08 am

So is the bee the direct descendant of a survivor, now altered by inherited mutation, or did it move in afterwards, and was mutated by the remaining radiation, or were there so few survivors that the gene pool did not correct existing variance, or was it accelerated survival of the fittest in a changed environment, or an effect of irradiated food supply....

So many possibilities, or at least it appears that way to someone with my limited knowledge of the biology.
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Re: The Bee That Survived The Tsar Bomba ...

#5  Postby Calilasseia » Mar 25, 2018 8:22 pm

According to the paper, Bombus glacialis speciated allopatrically from the Bombus lapponicus species complex about 6.4 million years ago, possibly from B. lapponicus itself, though B. sylvicola has to be factored in too. Whichever was the case, glacialis drops out as a sister clade to lapponicus and sylvicola in just about every phylogenetic tree you construct for the Pyrobombus SubGenus. The species then persisted on Novaya Zemlya through the Pleistocene ice ages, and the combination of large island size and somewhat mountainous topography, helped populations of the bee survive the island being used for Soviet nuclear tests. Though the Tsar Bomba probably didn't do the species any favours when it was detonated. :)
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Re: The Bee That Survived The Tsar Bomba ...

#6  Postby Matt_B » Mar 26, 2018 6:02 am

We're looking at a large archipelago of over 90,000 km2 here, so even with all the nuclear tests that were carried out it's not like the islands were going to be rendered completely uninhabitable. There are even still some human settlements on Yuzhny island, so to that extent the ability of bees to survive seems unremarkable.

Even on much smaller nuclear test islands such as Bikini Atoll, much of the native wildlife has managed to make a comeback with a lot of crabs, corals and fishes thriving in the highly radioactive waters. That's not to say that it won't have been catastrophic for some species, or that atmospheric nuclear testing is anything other than completely unacceptable in general, but nature is after all rather resilient.
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Re: The Bee That Survived The Tsar Bomba ...

#7  Postby aban57 » Mar 26, 2018 9:32 am

Calilasseia wrote:
For those unfamiliar with this far northern island off the Siberian coast of Russia, Novaya Zemlya was used for nuclear weapons testing by the former Soviet Union, including the test of the Tsar Bomba, a 50 megaton weapon which, when detonated, was the most powerful weapon ever detonated by Man.


I'm not sure the capital is deserved here...
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